February 27, 2009

Animal Collective @ Hollywood's Music Box [LA; 2/26/09]

As if the new album wasn’t enough to render a special energy, there was that whole episode last month when the band had to reschedule due to illness, then Ticketmaster got all mixed up… fast forward to last night, where a sold-out Fonda Theater finally burst. It was a startlingly young crowd, but then again this is the Band of the Internet Generation.

If you’re a regular reader here, you can imagine how capable I am of “going-on” about these guys, and predictably, this show. Here’s an attempt at some restraint: it was amazing.
Animal Collective have entered such a stride in their live set. It’s perfectly sequenced and seemingly scientific in respect to human response and crescendo. Merriweather Post Pavilion’s star is the vocal bond between Avey Tare and Panda Bear, and the same went for last night.

They opened just like that album as well, with “In the Flowers” ("If I could just leave my body for a night") leading into the anthem, “My Girls.” The latter’s power at this point, is profoundly, bananas. You’ll see in the video below (that I barely steadied my arm for), it has taken shape as a philosophical sing-along.

I’ll put a personal highlight stamp on the extended rendition (what had to be 15 minutes) of “Fireworks.” Its trademark drum loop crept in like a far-away helicopter. Once landed, Panda joined in on his drum kit, Avey on the verse, and well…fireworks.

“Lion in a Coma” is a serious live jam. As was “Brothersport” (below), to be expected.

They eased into an encore with a slow-motion twist on “Banshee Beat”, really only recognizable by lyrics. This evolved into a standout track from Panda Bear’s solo album, followed by older favorite, “Leaf House”, a proper way to end it. Bravo.

Set List (let me know if I missed any)
In the Flowers
My Girls
Blue Sky (New Song)
Summertime Clothes
Guys Eyes
Lion in a Coma
| encore |
Banshee Beat
Comfy In Nautica
Leaf House

February 25, 2009

Right Here, Right Now, Right Hemisphere | On The Headphones

It’s just occurred to me that I’ve been self-medicating with upper/escapism-type music lately to offset the downer NPR news that permeates my car every morning. I’m far from depressed here (and this is not a journal entry), but damn it’s so tempting to play along with the national feel-bad-for-ourselves game. Let's not. Let's buckle down. Work hard. Help each other. Live with intention. Keep the car running. Push it real good. Don’t stop till' you get enough. Embrace that side of our brain that embraces the present moment. Dream it. Do it. Blog like nobody’s reading.

Dan AuerbachKeep it Hid (2009)
The solo debut from one half of a band known for good old-fashioned blues-rock, The Black Keys. Keep it Hid is what you might expect (a softer Black Keys), but better (with soul, folk, R&B, and psychedelic elements). Looks like it's all streaming on his myspace.

ZombiSpirit Animal (2009)

Zombi, not to be confused with Zomby, or Zombie Zombie, (or that Cranberries song). Spirit Animal, not to be confused with all the spirits and animals in the music world.

This thing gets big.
10+ minute tracks of proggy instrumental synth stuff.

{{{ I'll be honest, they had me at the artwork.

Swan LakeEnemy Mine (2009)

More sweet excess from this Canadian supergroup (Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes, Daniel Bejar of Destroyer/The New Pornographers, and Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown, etc). I didn't entirely love 2006's Beast Moans, though it had some moments. You sort of feel obligated to listen when there's this much genius activity going on. It can get messy, which might be their appeal. I’m still figuring Enemy Mine out, but I’ll say that if their first outing sounded like collaboration, this sounds like a band.

Dan DeaconBromst (2009)

Everyone is going to hate this. It’s more of Deacon’s zany electronic formula: build it up, blow it up, irritate, repeat (something better experienced live). I think he wants you on the fence (with the intention of ripping your hands from the chain link…and next thing you know, you’re that kid at the show, sweating all over the guy’s Casiotone MT-400V).

Hugh Masekela - Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz (1973)

Legendary afrobeat jazz dub fusion. Prescribed by Stadiums and Shrines correspondent, Kati, a few weeks ago. This does the trick. I must pass along to you. Take it.


February 20, 2009

Friday Send-Off | Push It

Let’s talk about the 1:36 minute mark of this song. It might just be the most thrilling moment in music history. No, not the most significant (see: the opening beat in “Billie Jean” or the final chord in “A Day in the Life”). Straight up, thrilling. Show me a sequence that has inspired more knee-jerk “running mans” than when they drop this verse.

Happy Friday. Push it good.

February 15, 2009

Classic | All Things Must Pass

Look at him, just hanging with the garden gnomes, free of ego, short on controversy, and forever the 3rd best songwriter from the Beatles.

There sits a guy with a triple-album’s worth of gold, ready to explode. Imagine making music with the best songwriting "partnership" ever, and not being either partner. True, George Harrison did offer up an underrated amount of hits to the band's catalog (some of their best). But one listen to All Things Must Pass, and it's clear; Harrison was constrained until 1970. Less than a year after the Beatles disbanded, he came back to the table with a wealth of material. Some of these tracks, he’d been carrying around for years, either previously rejected by Lennon/McCartney or accumulated over jam sessions with friends like Dylan and Clapton.

There’s really nothing new to say about how good this is. My old, spotty version pieced together by dorm room downloading programs has been replaced with the digitally remastered double-disc, which you should definitely own. I could spend days on youtube, watching old videos and interviews from that era. What a blog-storm the Beatles’ break up would have been if the internet had existed.

On that note, someone asked me if I was one of those “new-music blogs” the other day. My answer is: not really.

Download: links removed

February 13, 2009

Yorke on Bowie

"I had just seen the video for 'Ashes to Ashes' by David Bowie (1980). It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. And the other kids were sort of saying it was too weird. And I just thought, I want to do that for a living."
- Thom Yorke

February 9, 2009

Radiohead @ The Grammys | Thoughts

OK, last night, the Grammys made a decent run at being relevant again. Yes, they’ve always been good at the nostalgia thing: a parade of living legends and duets and tributes (like those Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions on VH1 that I can’t stop watching). It’s being on top of what’s current, progressive, and meaningful in music, right now, that they lost touch with years ago. We shouldn’t really care who wins these things, but we should care that a ceremony meant to represent the best in music, is looking beyond the charts, and acknowledging just that. This doesn’t necessarily mean handing trophies to indie bands. I’m talking about seeking out and celebrating everything deserving, from anywhere. The Grammy committee didn't entirely cover that ground this year, but they did take some steps in the right direction.

Of the many justified reach-outs to relevance, asking Radiohead to perform was certainly on point (and giving them 7 nominations with 2 wins). Radiohead, notoriously indifferent to media and awards, were good sports, even inviting the USC marching band to back up “15 Step.”

Solid. Part of me wanted to see a version closer to their live show (or “House of Cards" with glowsticks, or at least Ed, Colin, and Phil), but unique and unexpected is what they do best. And Yorke danced like a little kid alone in his bedroom.

Style points for the sneakers (see also: Lil Wayne’s high tops).

It was a good night for Brits as a whole. I've been inspired to listen to that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album, making for a rather pleasant Monday on the headphones.

I'm also now officially annoyed with Coldplay. But for that kind of commentary, you're better off going to Stereogum (hilarious).

February 2, 2009

Quick | Handsome Furs | Face Control

Last spring, Handsome Furs triumphantly blew the roof off our little beach town’s...little venue. Seriously, our ears took days to recover. While the husband and wife duo got lost on a search for the beach a few hours earlier, they did make it back in time to deliver a feverish set that night (how those Canadians couldn't find the Pacific Ocean is beyond me). They were touring with nine songs from 2007’s
Plague Park (a Stadiums and Shrines fav of course). That's not a lot of material, but Dan Boeckner (also of Wolf Parade) made the most of each and every guitar riff available, making those minimalist tracks sound more like a 5-piece band. At the time they "knew" two other songs. I can’t remember them by name, but they were faster and heavier than the others, much like we now find Face Control.

The whole thing rips. “Legal Tender” opens on a pulse that takes any song from Plague Park and twists the beat-per minute dial up, generously. The formula (Dan’s quick talk-n-shouts over galloping drum machine/synth mixes) doesn’t let up for the next eleven tracks.

“All We Want, Baby, Is Everything” reminds me of the theme from "The Adventures of Pete and Pete" - an oddly good thing.

The couple fell in love with Russia on that last tour, so yeah, some of the content reflects this (“Talking Hotel Arbot Blues”, “Passport Kontrol”, “Nyet Spasiba”, “Radio Kaliningrad”). There's an overarching focus here. I’m not exactly sure what it is yet. But I like.

|UPDATE| new zombie-video for "I'm Confused"...

Enjoy. Face Control is due out March 10th. They'll be on the road, first abroad and then back along the Atlantic Ocean. Dates here.