July 25, 2008

Wolf Parade Defeat Yugoslavia 149 - 84 @ Hollywood's Music Box [LA; 07/19/08]

It doesn’t get much better than Wolf Parade on the Fonda Theater stage last Saturday. Top. Notch.

How does a band with this many resources keep from imploding? I’d guess it helps when each member gets to explore any excess urges by fronting their own bands on the side. Why not, right? They do what they want, and we have more music to listen to in between Wolf Parade albums. And when they do unite…

It’s like 1992 US Olympic “Dream Team.” Seriously, that might be the last time such talent has been funneled into one glass of dominance. So let’s consider Spencer Krug our Magic Johnson, which means Sunset Rubdown is our Lakers. Dan Boeckner is our Michael Jordan, making Handsome Furs our Chicago Bulls. And Dante DeCaro is our… Clyde Drexler, making Johnny and The Moon our Blazers (now we’re stretching).

The roster is back on tour for their second LP, At Mount Zoomer. It’s on that defining follow-up album’s tour where bands either get better or get stuck. As fans, we often endure the new stuff in hopes of hearing a few gems from the past. And other times, we love an entire show that combines new and old into a mellifluous* package. Progression. Saturday’s show in LA (Barcelona), and likely their whole tour, seems to reflect the latter.

I hadn’t really figured out the new album going into the show. I do like their choice in staying away from sugary singles or rehashing (as we’ve lost too many good acts to that kind of follow-up syndrome). And it’s certainly grand, but Mount Zoomer hasn’t hit me like the acclaimed debut did. That is until the live versions exposed how much more complex and interesting Zoomer's tracks are.

All the favorites were played throughout the night (Ian’s “It’s a Curse” and my “I’ll Believe in Anything” and everyone’s “Shine a Light”). We had a strangely ideal view of Spencer's hands on the piano, which, we later admitted, were hypnotizing. Of the multiple high points, the 12 minute-plus “Kissing the Beehive” took gold (I can't believe people are talking during that linked video). Spencer and Dan have always traded vocal duties from song for song but before never verse for verse. Whatever rivalry the blog world has created between the two songwriters is simultaneously magnified and put to rest in this epic.

I have my fingers crossed that the best is still yet to come with these guys.

*thanks for the word, former intern Scott!

July 11, 2008

This Week on The Headphones: Losers, Dogs, Apes, Androids...Evangelicals

I’m heading out of town for the weekend and running out of time on this post, but this week’s roster is so hot, it can’t wait until Monday. I do it because I care.

Descriptions will be brief.

Dr. Dog - Fate (2008)

Beatle-isms run high, in a good way. Fate is their most consistent release to date. A delight.

Spirtualized - Songs in A&E (2008)

I never got into Spiritualized. Until now. This record is heavy with songs about death, drugs, love, and God. And a bunch of references to souls and the fires burning within them. The first 20 minutes have become part of my morning routine.

The Do - A Mouthful (2008)

A French duo, pronounced “dough.” The girl sings, she has a lovely voice (and a lovely face). They play simple, fun, folk/pop stuff, but flirt with dreamy noise and some strings.

The Ruby Suns - Sea Lion (2008)

Sea Lions are a colony of animals that sun in the ocean off of California's Highway 1.

Easily one of the best I’ve heard this year, Sea Lion is very positive record. The result of New Zealanders and Californians colliding, this one is all smiles. Recommended for fans of enigmatic jungle pop, you know, that new age, Beach Boys stuff.

Apes & Androids - Blood Moon (2008)

Oh man. Bizarre.

Sounds like Queen covering Prince, backed by Of Montreal. There is some filler, but “Golden Prize” is on repeat. I hear the live show is theatric bananas.

Dan Friel - Ghost Town (2008)

Behind a grainy, distorted, electronic wall, there’s a Ghost Town full of divine, pop melodies. When you walk inside, your ears will bleed maple syrup.

The Evangelicals - The Evening Descends (2008)

"I think it's going to be like Marvin Gaye meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show." – singer Josh Jones

Glam. Flaming Lips. Busy with textures. Spacey. “Skeleton Man” aims high and wins.

Girl Talk - Feed The Animals (2008)

I was sick of Night Ripper, so this will do. A bit too much rap if you ask me. But you can’t go too wrong with a well-placed Girl Talk mash-up at a party. Not only does he sample Radiohead, he gives the record away for free like Radiohead, so really it’s a win/win.

Beck - Modern Guilt (2008)

Sounds like Beck, kind of bummed out (which I like, see: Sea Change), offset by some psychedelic surf riffs. Time will tell.

Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man (1988)

I really have my finger on the pulse of new music with this one! Really, he’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time and should be rediscovered by this generation. This is my homework assignment. Make it yours.

July 4, 2008

Fleet Foxes in Spaceland [LA; 06/30/08]

It began with the acappella greeting of “Sun Giant.

“What a life I lead in the summer
What a life I lead in the spring
What a life I lead in the winded breeze…”

Each pause was met with a collective hush you might hear in a church service. The potent harmony of Robin Pecknold and his bandmates defined the term, breathtaking.

Fleet Foxes are a young band. How they can sound as pure as they do live, is a modern wonder of some sort. Any song can be “crafted with precision” on records, and we’ve all learned to accept their “live versions.” But there was something different, something strangely perfect about that night. I was speechless then, and it looks like I still am. This is me giving up on the blog. Go see them.

It's worth noting how gracious and surprised they were at all the love, and their mountain man gear in the summer heat of Silver Lake, and the 2nd encore, and another Jason Lee sighting.

And now some videos I took when I wasn't too busy pulling my jaw off the floor:

Blue Ridge Mountains

Pecknold cleared the stage for a cover of Judee Sill's "Crayon Angels" before playing "Oliver James"

Here's what that video might look like if there were daylight, and he was in the back of a black cab.

Seriously go:
07-05 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
07-06 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
07-07 Washington, DC - Black Cat
07-08 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
07-09 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
07-12-13 Redmond, WA - Marymoor Park (SP20)
07-14 Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs
07-15 Montreal, Quebec - Le Divan Orange
07-18 Madison, WI - Terrace
07-19 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival $
07-20 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St. Entry
07-22 Denver, CO - Hi-Dive
07-23 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
07-25 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
08-07 Oslo, Norway - Oya Festival
08-09 Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West Festival
09-05-07 Isle of Wight, England - Bestival

Happy 4th!