January 31, 2008

MGMT @ the Echoplex [LA; 01/26/08]

“We've Got the Vision, Now Let's Have Some Fun”

Current “It-factor” band, MGMT, sold out the Echoplex along with co-headliner Yeasayer last Saturday. Our group of seven withstood the two hours of rain to get the last remaining tickets. Literally, we were of the final 25 lucky “walk-ons”(the doorman assigned us numbers, you’d think Willy Wonka was headlining). This kind of commitment contest was not expected for such a young act, whose first album only came out last week (then again we should have learned something from that Vampire Weekend experience).

\The Vision\

MGMT’s debut, Oracular Spectacular, has become a force in the apartment since all roommates fell hard for its acid-washed videos and anthems like 08’ frontrunner, “Electric Feel.” I haven’t seen such unified listening sessions since this time last year when Of Montreal first Hissed from our windows.

All elements fell into place for this legendary night; old friends in town, a day full of beach volleyball, and that cohesive buzz I just talked about. That was until we realized the prospect of a sell out. It didn’t look good for us and the dozens of others in a line of uncertainty running off Sunset Blvd. But torrential downpour on top of anticipation would only add to the tale. And luckily we had enough Christopher Walken impersonators around to pass the time. There was this general “record release party” vibe going on inside.

\The Fun\

From what I caught of Yeasayer, they infused some extra energy into tracks from All Hours Cymbals. In other words, the whole thing came to life nicely.



We migrated to the front as Andrew VanWyngarden, Ben Goldwasser, and the rest of MGMT (they tour as a five-piece) setup their own equipment. VanWyngarden, who I must say has every unsaid appeal imaginable as a frontman, gently plugged in like it were a high school battle of the bands. But right from the opener, “Handshake”, it was nothing short of psychedelic pop perfection (or rock done right, or dance all sexed up, or whatever you want to try and call it).

The band stuck around after the show. It didn’t take long for stadiums and shrines power hype guy, Tony Earley, to approach the humble guys by the merch table. What transpired from that conversation on cannot fully be retold in this internet age… but let’s just say the story ends with a 3am text message from Andrew saying something like,

“See you at Coachella. Space Kittens Forever!”

More videos from the show:

"Electric Feel"

"The Handshake"

January 22, 2008

This Week On The Headphones

Officially out of that January hustle and now experiencing a brief break from east coaster visitation, I’m back at it. Starting 2008 in a hibernation mode, scored by old favorites, was a healthy move. There’s only so much digging you can do for new music before you stop and question why. One might even propose a quality over quantity argument. So it seemed appropriate to step back. My last post presented some fun that came from revisiting the classics.

But in between extended sessions with the veterans, a few prospects have been placed on deck. And to continue this bad analogy, some recent standouts were given further playing time as well (Hey, some people spend hours on fantasy football. I spend hours on this).

2008 retail cover MGMTOracular Spectacular (2008)

Learning about new bands from the radio these days is about as rare as going into a Sam Goody and buying a CD. But I’ll admit, after hearing the song “Time to Pretend” four times in one day, the rest was history (It’s been played to death even since I started working on this entry).

UPDATE: Turns out the official music video for "Time To Pretend" is far out to say the least. WATCH IT IN ALL ITS HIGH-RES GLORY HERE

Expect a blog about the live show we are attending tomorrow.

They played on Letterman last week, wearing capes, below.

They’ve been opening for Of Montreal. Maybe If we had gone to that show back in November (we were all supposed to wear costumes and everything!) I would have been privy to all the new s##t man.

It might not be anything profoundly different, but it is insanely catchy. They pull from a few sounds, with the spacey synth-pop standing out the most. I haven’t read too far into the lyrics, but it seems like these guys are hitting upon this dreaming youth/rock stardom theme. The album officially comes out the end of this month. It should be a big year for them and all their “potential.” Early standouts are "Weekend Wars", "Electric Feel", and "Kids".

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Na6dcWKRL._AA240_.jpg YeasayerAll Hours Symbols (2007)

I’m happy to finally give this record more time. It’s all texture (sounding very nice on the new system). It first struck me a few months ago, but I rushed through it in preparation for that crazy best of 07’ list.

All Hours Symbols may, however, mark the maturity of a rising sound in current indie music. You know that tribal chanting thing that you can’t quite classify? Rather than paraphrasing or reworking, I’ll just paste what one writer said, because someone had to say it.

“Over the past few years, a few of the most talked-about indie bands have been those making music with an ahistorical sense of mythic drama. TV on the Radio, Celebration, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective, among others, have been variously and inventively appropriating rock'n'roll's roots in ritualistic sounds, working toward individual aesthetics that merge mutual appreciations for surface and tradition. By and large, they draw upon ideas of the pre-modern (multi-part harmonies and chants drawn from religious rites, a fixation on the unseen power of the natural world), and express them through ultra-modern forms (synthesizers, electronic textures, heavy echo).” – Eric Harvey, Pitchfork

Bands like Yeasayer make me appreciate David Byrne more. And that’s not bad at all. You can’t look at new music with the critical whip, waiting to snap at derivatives. Yeasayer has a beautiful album on their hands. They manage to leap forward by glancing back. It’s something new, sort of.

Plague Park cover Handsome FursPlague Park (2007)

I grossly overlooked this album with a 'gotta place it somewhere but really haven’t listened to it enough' #35 on the year end list.

Honestly, this sticks on the wall just as long as any other noodle in the top ten. As if we needed more proof, this project continues to argue how important Wolf Parade is to current music.

If an absent Spencer Krug is the off-beat songwriter of Wolf Parade, than maybe (just maybe) Dan will turn out to be some sort of McCartney to his Lennon. I hope they start making music together again soon, but in the meantime, Handsome Furs is a pleasant pop surprise. It seems like basic, drum machine rock, but its actually really good, basic drum machine rock.

Distortion cover Magnetic FieldsDistortion (2008)

I don’t know a thing past last week’s wikipedia research on the 17 year spanning career of the Magnetic Fields (and they’re from Boston, I should be ashamed of myself). Apparently singer/songwriter Stephin Merrit likes to take chances and change their sound around. Well this direction has my attention; noisy-reverb surf rock. I’m not endorsing it just yet, but give me a few more weeks.

In Advance of the Broken Arm cover Marnie SternIn Advance of a Broken Arm (2007)

Please marry me, Marnie Stern.

This debut sounds like it could be the 11th album from Deerhoof. If you don’t follow, that means this is very, very powerful and explorative for such a new act. Her guitar shredding is on a crazy level. Her voice plays with tempo changes and bounces off drumbeats.

Post-War cover M. Ward - Post War (2006)

Just loving this record again and wanted to mention it. There you go.

Video | Chinese Translation

http://www.urb.com/uploads/reviews/cd_reviews/Black_Dice_Load_Blown_DFA_Astralwerks.jpgBlack DiceLoad Blown (2007)

This is currently satisfying the electronic fix. Look the other way if you don’t have one of those fixes. Signed to paw tracks (the Animal Collective label), they fall somewhere in the noise, breakbeat family. It’s a stretch even for me, but with a couple nudges from the cousin, pictureplane, I’m beginning to see the light.

Deer TickWar Elephant (2007)

Just got into this last night, so you are reading a listen as I type evaluation here. His voice doesn’t sound like 21 year olds, nor does his weathered lyrics. It has some alt-country appeal, but seems better fit for Bright Eyes or Band Of Horses’ fans. He said this, regarding his bad pitchfork review...

“I'm recovering; realizing that just about everybody already knows that Pitchfork is a steaming pile of s##t.”

I like that. Now back to the music; He’s got a lot of good things going, songwriting especially. "Art Isn’t Real (City Of Sin)" is a pretty song. I’m not sure I believe him yet, but there was a day when Beirut too was questioned for being wise beyond his age. And we all got over that.

Let’s see if I can put the rest in next week’s entry (and actually live up to the "weekly" implications of this title) instead of one lengthy mess.

If you don’t have access to the albums, contact me. A hot exchange can be arranged.

January 7, 2008

A Talking Heads Resolution: Stop Making Sense in 2008

It took the final push of a Borders gift card. But I finally bought something that’s been on the to-do list since its first viewing mid-way through college. Looking back on that night, it turned out to be the groundwork for a long standing friendship (I now live on the other side of the country with the person that first showed me this).

Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense is it.

Dude, it is just, it.

If I were a musician, I would see this as the Holy Grail. But I guess it’s a lost cause to strive for a show like Stop Making Sense, because you and I and anyone else, will never be David Byrne. A man so comfortable in his own skin, its uncomfortable.

The film's power was strong enough to make a DVD the obvious choice in a store full of books.

So I was 2 months old in December of 1983.

Meanwhile, a possessed David Byrne was orchestrating a legendary stage show in December of 1983 (Clearly, I've learned about this just a bit after the fact).

He opened the night alone with a boom box for "Psycho Killer":

"Hi. I got a tape I wanna play" ...

Pure genius, note his stumble-dance.

With each successive song he was joined by another band member. Here is the third song, "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel" …

The full brigade of rock and funk finally assembled for "Burning Down the House" …

The celebration continued with "This Must Be The Place (Na├»ve Melody)" …

And "Once in a Lifetime"…

Then Byrne returned with the oversized suit. On display here in "Girlfriend is Better" …

Crosseyed and Painless" ended the monster set, at which point the camera finally gave a glimpse of the crowd, who looked like the luckiest people on earth. That's another element not to be overlooked; this film was shot masterfully. The Wikipedia entry offers some readable insight about the production.

Bottom line, if I put this album on in my car, my day gets better. And now I look forward to the multiple plays on screen too.

Here is a clip that comes on the bonus disc. It’s David Byrne interviewing David Byrne...

And if you are the one person (totally slacking at work) who has watched all these videos, I will reward you with my all-time favorite Talking Heads song (complete with Byrne’s best dance move). Taken from a different show, below is the song "Mind."