Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Track Rundown

Thanksgiving is this week and if you are searching for something to be thankful for, look no further than the free stream of Fall Be Kind, the new EP from Animal Collective. With the economic crisis and joblessness still plaguing America, free music is at least a small bright spot on otherwise trying times. The pan flute jam at the end of opening track "Graze" is sure to put a smirk on anyone's face. Be sure to pay attention while you are staring at the Pink Floyd-esque album cover pictured above or you are going to miss the rich sonic textures enveloping the record and the first ever legal Grateful Dead sample. The song that features said sample, "What Would I Want? Sky", has been a fan favorite since they began performing it live some time ago and the studio version does not let down in the least. Read more about it in this spot on review from Pitchfork. Although I had been listening to that song a great deal, my favorite on the EP is "I Think I Can". It flawlessly demonstrates why Animal Collective is one of the most intriguing and innovative groups of our generation. Listen to the EP and more excellent music after the jump.

Lady Before She Went GaGa

More news on pop artists? I have been inspired to do a short write-up about Lady GaGa after watching a pre-GaGa video of her performing. The video features Stefani Germanotta, now known as Lady Gaga, performing at Ultraviolet Live, NYU's annual talent show. I know a lot of people who like Lady GaGa but I have always been vociferous about my distaste for her. This video doesn't make me enjoy her Lady GaGa persona any more but it does help me respect her as a musician and displays the immense potential that she had. Unfortunately, said talent has been squandered on an extremely gimmicky image and overproduced accompaniments. The following performance encapsulates the incredible songwriting and unbridled musicianship she is capable of. If only, she decided to revert back to this style. I guess whatever sells records…

Fox News Have Heart

Fox News has posted a surprisingly insightful report on the straight-edge scene in New England. This is probably the most credible reporting Fox News has done in the last decade. The video includes great footage such as an interview with In My Eyes from 1999. It also covers noteworthy hardcore label Bridge 9 Records and Have Heart's final show which occurred on October 17, 2009; also known as Straight-edge Day. Unfortunately, I missed the performance which took place in Revere, MA but the event was told to be a great success and triumphant ending to an influential band. The photo above is from a very limited edition print they were selling at the show. I am posting Have Heart's final record Songs to Scream at the Sun which serves as an excellent example of how passionate this band was. It is sure to have you screaming along with every word (perhaps at the sun?) by the time it's over. It is available for cheap at the Bridge 9 store along with some other awesome merch so get yourself a legit copy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Big Pink Does Beyoncé

Continuing this week's theme of cover songs involving members of the Knowles family, The Big Pink have unleashed a cover of Beyoncé's "Sweet Dreams" which has been made available via Stereogum. The lyrics for "Sweet Dreams" are oddly fitting for the hazy atmosphere and style of The Big Pink. The stripped-down, raw version of the song presented here is an excellent departure from Beyoncé's version but they still can't hit the notes like she can when singing "My guilty pleasure, I ain't goin' nowhere". Give both versions a listen below:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gypsy from NEPA

It's not often I hear a group from Northeastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, that is able to make an immediate impact on me but that's exactly what happened when I heard Gypsy. The band comes from Wilkes-Barre, PA and features members of Cold World, Blacklisted, Bad Seed, and Let Down. Their self-titled 2 song release features brash guitar rock that presents a distinctive 90s influence. "Relatively Distant" has the abrasive ringing guitar tones that were prevailing on Jawbreaker's seminal album 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. "Skeleton Parade" utilizes the sound of bands like Dinosaur Jr. to create an anthem complete with sing-along lyrics and a soaring guitar solo. This is a very mysterious release since I couldn't find any press or even a myspace for the band. I am really looking forward to hearing more about and from this band in the near future as they make a great addition to the NEPA scene. You can find the single at the link below. If you like what you hear, pick up the self-titled 7" from Six Feet Under Records which is a label out of Beverly, MA that has pressed some excellent albums.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Local Spotlight On: The Dirty Dishes, RIBS

The Dirty Dishes are a band quickly on the rise in the Boston scene. Possessing a sound similar to that of Silversun Pickups or Autolux, they exhibit excellent songwriting sensibilities and an intriguing sound. Singer/guitar Jenny Tuite, bassist Jay Marcovitz, drummer Kevin Lynch, and keyboardist Alex Molini meld their instruments together to create a dreamy blend that is sure to satisfy all the shoegazers out there. Songs such as the vibrant "Deer in the Headlights" or the atmospheric "Thin Air" warrant repeated listens and demonstrate much promise for the young group. Passion Pit has been mentioning them in interviews (here and here) and also picked "Stolen Apples" to be featured as the #1 track on their "Boston Bands We Like" Myspace playlist. You can download their debut EP In the Clouds for free for a limited time at the link below:

Solange Gets Dirty

I wasn't aware until recently that Solange Knowles is a bona fide hipster. First, she was getting her sister
Beyoncé and Jay-Z into Grizzly Bear
and now she has emerged with a cover of the Dirty Projectors song "Stillness is the Move" from their incredible 2009 album Bitte Orca. Unfortunately, Universal Records had requested that it be taken down. It's a shame because the track is pretty damn cool. Solange has done an excellent job of bringing out the R&B influence that was prevalent in the original. Both are not without their own unique charms. Since most people would benefit hearing each track, I'm including a link to hers as well as a stream of the original version. Also, here is her response to the song being taken down via@solangeknowles:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Track Rundown

I'm back with another installment of the new track rundown and there are some serious gems circulating around the internet right now. The biggest news story of the week would be the release of the debut record by Them Crooked Vultures. The band features a dream ensemble consisting of Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. Don't think that this one sounds too good to be true. I got my hands on this bad boy and it rocks as hard as you would hope considering the men behind the music. Songs like "New Fang", "Reptiles", and "Warsaw or the First Breath You Take after You Give Up" possess innovative songwriting and exceptional dynamics which allow them to fit comfortably alongside the band members' highly lauded catalogs. The album cover is featured above and you can check out "New Fang" after the jump.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Junior Boys at the Middle East

I hadn't been too familiar with Junior Boys aside from their pivotal electropop album So This is Goodbye released in 2006. Therefore, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I went to see them on November 2, 2009 at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. What I got was an unexpectedly enticing mix of chill yet danceable electronic indie rock. I know that's a lot of adjectives being thrown your way but it aptly describes the group's unique sound.

T.T. the Bear’s: Future of the Left

Anyone who has read this blog within the last few months will know that I absolutely love Future of the Left's latest album Travels with Myself and Another. I wrote the review for the aforementioned album back in June and it still hasn't lost any of its charm. That's why I jumped at the chance to hear the material live at T.T. The Bear's Place in Cambridge, MA on November 1, 2009. Since the band is coming all the way from the UK, it was quite the treat to see them in such an intimate venue. With the anticipation for the show on high, the band did not let down in the slightest.

The Middle East: A Place to Bury Strangers

Don't be fooled. The title isn't advice. On October 30, 2009, I subjected my eardrums to the unrelenting torrent of noise that is A Place to Bury Strangers. For those unfamiliar with the band, it is fronted by Oliver Ackermann who creates his own effects pedals and sells them under the name Death by Audio, a very appropriate name for some of the loudest pedals available. A Place to Bury Strangers is often known as "the loudest band in New York" and for rightful reasons. They decided to bring that loudness to the Middle East in Cambridge, MA and I'm very thankful that they did.

David Cross at the Wilbur Theatre

On Monday October 19, 2009 I had a chance to see David Cross, one of the greatest comedic minds of our generation, at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, MA. For those who were wondering: Yes, the Wilbur is finally selling booze. Cross was featured on Mr. Show, the greatest sketch show of all time, and also played Dr. Tobias Funke on Arrested Development. The tour was to promote his new book of essays, I Drink for a Reason, and was also to be taped for a comedy special which I could only imagine HBO would be able to air. He performed for about 2 hours and the material lampooned everything from heroin junkies to the health care bill. In typical Cross fashion, his wry observations on life were as insightful as they were ridiculous. It would spoil most of the material if I described it in detail here but it was about as good as comedy gets. One anecdote even had him claiming to have snorted coke 40 feet away from the President. He also showed a five-minute clip of a new show that's going to be aired on the BBC called The Increasing Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. It had a lot of potential and it is a shame that it won't be played in the United States for awhile. The show featured Cross's fellow Arrested Development cast member Will Arnett, which only added to its promise. I purchased I Drink for a Reason but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. The guy's a genius so I'm sure I'll find much to enjoy within its pages. If you need further proof, below are two classic skits from Mr. Show.

Built to Spill at the Middle East Night 3

On October 11, 2009, I caught the third night of Built to Spill's three night run at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. I've seen a lot of concerts this year and have spoken highly about many of them but this is the one that will probably go down as my favorite. I hate to use the old cliché but seeing Built to Spill live is the closest a concert is going to come to a religious experience. The band's triple-guitar attack on indie rock is tailor-made for the stage and should be witnessed by anyone who considers themselves a fan of guitar-centric rock and roll. It could easily make a believer of even the most jaded music critic. To top things off, this particular night was the night to see if you were a long time Built to Spill fan. It was chocked full of my personal favorites as well as well known classics. The set lists for all three dates can be found at Setlists.fm.

Japandroids Take Over Great Scott!

On October 5, 2009, I had the chance to catch Japandroids as they invaded Great Scott in Allston, MA. Great Scott has firmly established itself as the venue to catch creative new bands on the rise. For those not in the know, Japandroids broke into the garage rock scene earlier this year with the release of their debut full-length Post-Nothing. The record is nothing short of impressive and contains nine catchy yet noisy tracks of rock including "Young Hearts Spark Fire" which was included in my article on the 250 Songs You Need to Hear from the 2000s. The two-piece from Vancouver took the opportunity to show attendees that they are just as powerful live as they are on record.