Author Archive for Seitz

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Smith Westerns – Weekend

This is the first in a series of “Coming Attractions” posts for me, though I suppose in actuality, most of my posts here are in that vein.

This is a Chicago band, so I can never tell if the all of the buzz is local, or indie nationwide, but I know they’ve had some Pitchfork love. I caught a bit of their set at the Pitchfork Festival this year, but I think we were waiting for Neon Indian to start, so we probably weren’t paying attention, and quite honestly, it didn’t sound that great. Also, I don’t love their first album. And of course, you’d be justified in pinning the P4k praise on their willingness to appear at the Festival.

But I gave in to the hype and gave the new album Dye It Blond a try and I was sold about 15 seconds into this track, which leads off the album. I mean, those are some seriously great hooks in that first guitar part. Really all of the guitar work on this album is phenomenal, and the production values are pretty decent, making the whole thing fun to listen to. They sound like a cross between the happy and druggy eras of the Beach Boys.

They get another chance to impress me at the Empty Bottle in a couple weeks. They wouldn’t be the first band I hated at Pitchfork but subsequently loved in a proper venue.

The Drums – Me and the Moon

Take your pick. the Smiths? the Ocean Blue? the Cure? Anything else for the late ’80s/early ’90s? Regardless, for those that like music from that period, I’m just happy that people still make music that could have come from that period.

I saw these guys a few months ago, and they weren’t really on my radar much before that. They played a double bill with Surfer Blood. They opened the 7:00 pm show and headlined the 10:00 pm show. Due to two distinct groups of friends, and the fact that a ticket to early show got me into the late show, I stayed through both (I also saw New Pornographers earlier in the day as part of my lunch break, making it a five set day)[PP adds- I worry about Seitz- he is a MACHINE]. Everyone I was with bought tickets for Surfer Blood. Everyone I was with walked away loving the Drums.

There’s an Apples in Stereo song called “She’s Telling Lies”. The Pitchfork review said that song didn’t so much rip off a Beach Boys song as much as it ripped off their whole catalog. I feel that way about the Drums vis a vis the late ’80/early ’90s Britpop scene. That said I love this album and the EP that preceded it. I chose this song a) because there’s a video and b) because I think it best exemplifies their affinity for that period. Enjoy.

[PP adds- I am afraid to listen to this song because I will love it instantly or my soul will recoil from the shameless pilfering of my treasured anglophilia]

The Blue Aeroplanes – You Are Loved

Alright, so it has been a while since anyone has posted anything here, so I’m stepping up to the plate.

This is either from my first concert ever, or my first club show ever. Probably the latter, but we’re talking about something that happened 20 years ago, so things get a bit blurry. I saw these guys at the Roxy on Sunset, the only show I’ve ever seen there. In fact, I’ve seen more shows in Chicago this year than I saw in my 25 years in Los Angeles.

That said, these guys put on a great show. They opened for the Jazz Butcher, which is one of those guys/bands that I rarely listened to, but my brother loved.

It might not jump out at you right away, but think Art Brut. Gerard Langley does that “I’m singing without actually singing” thing, in which the lead vocalists just kind of says the words.

In any case, the opening 20 seconds of actual music was about the best 20 seconds of music I had heard when I was a junior in high school. Enjoy the Blue Aeroplanes:

What’s In It For? – Avi Buffalo

AC Newman name dropped this band in a Pitchfork guest list, which they’re apparently doing by podcast now. That’s a good thing, because they played part of the track in background, and it sounded pretty good, so I sought it out. I’m not sure if I like the whole album yet, but this song hit me pretty much right away.

So far the best descriptions I’ve read are “Built to Spill teaching Grizzly Bear to jam” and “Like the xx raised on a diet of Built to Spill and the Shins”. I’ll admit that Built to Spill was the first band that these guys brought to mind, maybe because of the high pitched voice. This is another band out of Southern California. Long Beach this time, instead of Silverlake, and they sound a bit more beachy than bands like Foreign Born and Local Natives. More San Francisco-y. They also kind of remind me of Generationals (who are awesome, by the way), in that it’s a updated version of a fairly classic or oldies sound. Enjoy.

Frequency – Super Furry Animals

I’ve been wanting to post this song forever, but there has never been an acceptable version on Youtube (or any version for that matter). This version is from a live broadcast. I’m pretty sure the strings are piped in, as I can’t see an orchestra in there, but I don’t have a problem with that. They haven’t played this live at any of the shows I’ve been to. For a live recording, the sound is actually pretty good.

More importantly, they do a decent job of capturing the best part of this song, which are the strings arranged by the High Llama’s Sean O’Hagan. The guy is really a genius when it comes to string arrangements, and while I’ve only scratched the surface of his output, this would be his “masterpiece” from what I’ve listened to. I think my favorite part about the string arrangement in this song is that I probably listened to it 10-15 times before I finally realized how important the strings are. Just not something I focused on in those initial listens. But as often happens in music, one listen changed everything, and now I can’t not hear them as the dominant factor. The best part of the song, in my opinion, hits at about the 3:30 to 3:50 mark.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve talked them up, it will almost be impossible for anyone new to this song to have the same experience, but that doesn’t make the song any less wonderful. It’s hard to choose just one song from their years of output, but this song is definitely in my top three or four SFA songs (Herman Love Pauline, Ice Hockey Hair, and maybe another).

When They Fight, They Fight – Generationals

Generationals are a band out of New Orleans who will be touring this Spring with the Apples in Stereo. Their tour mates will probably give you an idea of what they’re going to sound like. Hooks and melodies so sweet they make your teeth hurt. But in a bit of twist, they’re also totally retro. This song has sort of a late ’50s Motown feel to it. Pinko ought to love this stuff.

I’m including a link to their Myspace page because, while I’m loving this album, I think the first song “Nobody Could Change Your Mind” is probably my favorite, and I can’t find a good embeddable version. So click the link and go listen that one too.

They’ll be at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on April 30th. Really looking forward to this show, even though it will be the second show for me in the same night. Never pulled that off before, but Los Campesinos! starts at 7:00, and this show doesn’t start until 10:00, so I should be able to swing it.

Possum Dixon – Watch the Girl Destroy Me

[PP Ed note- I also kind of love this song from back in the day, and even if Pitchfork uses this to pigeonhole the shit out of us, I don’t care- we have editorial freedom at 3B. Date us away. Make fun of the flannel we never wore!]

A radical departure from El Seitzo at SOTD. For once I’m not posting a song from a recently discovered artist/artist of the moment. This is from an album I bought at some point in the early 90s. In fact, I may have had this on cassette, and then later picked up a copy on a used CD, but to this to day it is one of the most underrated albums I own (along with probably Chance from the Rave Ups). I think I got it at a used CD fair at UC Riverside at some point after my freshman year.

This album kind of sounds like a combination of Violent Femmes (contemporaries) and Art Brut (just kids at the time), one of which I like, and one of which I love like few others (that would be Art Brut).

This is the best of a bevy of fantastic songs. The album is chock full of great stuff from art rock, to Dick Dale style surf guitar, to power pop. Unfortunately, they tried to get serious for their second album, it wasn’t as good, and that was pretty much that. Rob Zabrecky is now a magician performing at the Magic Castle. But every so often I cue this album up in the ‘ol iTunes, because it’s really pretty fantastic from start to finish. Standout tracks include Nerves, In Buildings, Regina, and Elevators, in addition to the track below. Especially Regina and Elevators. But this song is just a terrific straightforward pop song. Enjoy!

No One Said That This Would Be Easy – The Postmarks

I heard this song on XM radio when I was on a Jet Blue flight from Long Beach to Chicago, and it made an impression. It sounded like an American version of some stuff I’ve heard from Broadcast. It’s the opening track from their new album Memoirs at the End of the Word. Interestingly, when you rip this CD and import it into iTunes, the genre tag is “Soundtrack”, which is kind of funny since I don’t think any of these songs appear on any soundtracks. But the whole album sounds like it’s full of songs that could be on movie soundtracks, and this song in particular has a real early James Bond feel to it.

I saw these guys in concert last night with Brookville, which is one of the side projects of Andy Chase (Ivy, Paco). Great show. Only about 50 people there, and Tim Yehezkely, the lead singer for the Postmarks (yes, she’s a girl and her name is Tim, and no, that’s not her on the video/album cover actually, I take that back, I think that is her) was kind of dancing by herself through the whole Brookville set. This was going on about five feet in front of me. It was just a cool atmosphere. I feel guilty at those shows, because I kinda like when they aren’t crowded, but at the same time I feel bad for the bands that more people didn’t show up. And if the crowd is like that for a Chicago show, what’s it going to be like when they play Omaha?

Anyway, this whole album is really good, but this is my favorite song from it so far.

Vacationing People – Foreign Born

So about a month or so ago, I decided to make a fairly short list of bands whose names I kept hearing/reading, whether it be from friends, or on Pitchfork, or whatever. I have a Rhapsody subscription, so the plan was to start listening to those bands to see if there was stuff out there that I was missing. I still have a few to get to, but the list includes things like Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, Passion Pit, etc.

So far, the band that scores the highest on the “how much I like them vs. how much buzz I’ve heard” scale is Foreign Born (note that I also love Phoenix and Dirty Projectors, but they get a lot more pub). This is the third track off their latest album Person to Person. They’re like a more musically polished version of the Broken West, who I’ve discussed here before. So far this is my favorite song off this album. Unfortunately, this is the best version of this song on Youtube, but I’d suggest going to their myspace page and checking out the studio version as well, which is excellent.

Checking In, Checking Out – The High Llamas

Sean O’Hagan has been a large, yet somewhat unsung part of two of my favorite bands. He’s done a lot of work with both Stereolab and the Super Furry Animals. In fact, if his best work with SFA (“Frequency”, from the album Love Kraft) was available on Youtube, I’d be posting that instead, but such is life.

So having heard his name over and over, I decided to check out the High Llamas a few years ago. And while it’s taking time to get myself sold on the whole catalog, the first song I ever checked out was this one from a collection of b-sides and rarities. And since being all “Beach Boys-esque” is really cool these days, I figured this was a good time to post a Sean O’Hagan song.

But seriously, search for and listen to “Frequency” by SFA. It’s probably my favorite SFA song, and the strings are a huge part of that. Or, in the alternative, if Pinko will let me send him the track to do the plug-in thing, I can do that too.

Modern Art – Art Brut

This is the first in a series. The series will document songs that I didn’t care much about until I saw the song performed live, after which the song totally blew my mind. I won’t give away the others just yet, but the first is Modern Art, by Art Brut.

Let me first explain that if you’ve never seen Art Brut live, consider yourself deprived. I’m no aficionado, but I’ve seen somewhere between 100 and 150 live shows, and never have I seen a band that delivered a performance more fun than Art Brut. They recently played a five night residency in Chicago, and I was lucky enough to catch them twice at Schuba’s, a venue that holds less than 200 people. My only regret is that I didn’t buy the five night pass. They were that good. Fortunately I’ll be on vacation in L.A. next week, and I’ll be catching them yet again at Spaceland in Silverlake.

Modern Art, off of their first LP Bang, Bang, Rock and Roll was not a stand out track for me, until I saw them last Monday. Eddie Argos, master storyteller, walks into the crowd, back and forth, putting a tremendous strain on the guy manning the microphone cord. But he wants us all to really understand how much he loves the blues of David Hockney (I do too) and the pieces of Matisse. It’s a head banging, crowd rocking four minutes.

Their latest album Art Brut vs. Satan is something I simply can’t stop listening to. Don’t let the spoken word lyrics get you down. Yes, that is his real singing voice, it’s not irony, it’s not rock and roll. They’re just talking….to the kids. The musicality is fantastic and fun. In fact, I think F.U. and N. are the three best letters that describe Art Brut.

Come Into My Sleep – Nick Cave and Bad Seeds

I’m not gonna lie. I’m not much of a Nick Cave fan. I’ve got nothing against him personally. He actually seems like a pretty cool guy, but for whatever reason, I’ve just never found most of his stuff very appealing (I should note that I do like Grant Lee Phillips’ cover of City of Refuge that appeared on his Nineteeneighties album, which sounds much different than Nick Cave’s original). I don’t believe I own anything by him.

But about 10-12 years ago, a friend of mine made a mix tape for a bunch of people. It actually had some really good stuff on it (Soul Coughing, the Seahorses, Eric Matthews, Texas…), but this song stood out as probably my favorite song on the tape. Someone apparently made a video for it and stuck it on Youtube. I really like the Xyolophone line and the little groove it supplies.

Neon Beanbag – Stereolab

This is from their latest, Chemical Chords. There’s an argument that Stereolab aren’t really treading any new ground, but I don’t really have a problem with that. On a full listen, this sounds kind of like a best of Stereolab, but with all new songs. I think this one sounds like Dots and Loops era Stereolab.

There used to be a restaurant in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago called Mod that had really strange tables and chairs. Trendy, with pretty good food, but the furniture looked like it came from one of those pictures from the sixties that purported to show what lounge furniture would look like in the ’90s and beyond. I’m not sure if I’m conveying the aesthetic properly, but that’s what Stereolab mostly sounds like to me. Like the Jetsons without the spaceships and robots. Loungy pop music that would have sounded futuristic 45 years ago, but doesn’t really belong to this era.

Regardless, this one has a very infectious groove to it, and listening to it makes me happy.

Death to Los Campesinos! – Los Campesinos!

These guys had a fair amount of P-fork buzz around their first album, and they’ve got endorsements from such luminaries as Gruff Rhys [Super Furry Animals]. I downloaded the first album a while ago, fell in love with “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats”, but took my time getting into the rest of the first album Hold On Now, Youngster. Well, I’m now into it. I really like the upbeat tempo of everything, and I like the juxtaposition of the softly accented female vocals (Aleksandra Campesinos!) and the harder accent of the male vocals (Tom Campesinos!). And yeah, they’re the type of band where everyone changes their last name so that it’s the same as the band.

They may get a little too sugary after a while, but they have some really good stuff, and they strike as the type of band that will be really good live. I’ll find out when they come to Chicago in February. I get the impression they’re the type of band that PP will pan.

Also, what is it about Wales that makes them produce an inordinate number of good bands relative to the size of the country? The Alarm, Super Furry Animals, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics when they didn’t suck…

I Need Direction – Teenage Fanclub

A year or so ago, a post came up on some site (maybe this one?) where PP admitted to listening to this song. This is arguably my favorite Teenage Fanclub Song. From the melody, to the bridge, to the Ba Ba Bas, it’s perfect pop music.

This is a band that I’ll admit to not really getting at first. They had a song or two that I liked, most notably Starsign and I Don’t Know from Bandwagonesque. But the singles (The Concept and What You Do to Me) just sounded boring and repetitive. And without a good background in the genre, this is a band that may sound hit or miss. But like the Posies, after spending a lot of time listening to Big Star, everything sort of makes sense. This song is probably the best of the group from this era that includes Ain’t That Enough, I Don’t Want Control of You, and Accidental Life.

Anyway, thank PP for this one. Sorry for the choppy version. The album track is better.

Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning – Hit the Wall and Churches Under the Stairs

Two new ones from the second album of the ‘Broken Social Scene Presents…’ series, following up on the first album from Kevin Drew. The first song is the album’s first single, and the second is my favorite song on the album so far, which is subject to change depending on how much I listen to it.

In the past, BSS has been kind of hit and miss for me. I really love their more traditional pop stuff, like “Stars and Sons” and “Cause = Time” from ‘You Forgot it in People’. But I’ve been kind lukewarm on the more instrumental/experimental stuff like “Shampoo Suicide” or “Looks Just Like the Sun”, from the same album. Their self titled album seemed to have more of the latter, and it’s not one of my favorites. Kevin Drew was responsible for a good portion of their earlier work, and somewhat as expected, his album was kind of all over the place.

Brendan Canning, has tended to be a little more subdued to this point, with “Stars and Sons” being a good example of his best work to this point. But he really steps up on the new album, with a lot of very interesting and very accessible pop. Both of these songs are good examples of that. He also delivers a fairly surprising dance track called “Love Is New”, which to me sounds like his own personal “I Turn My Camera On”.

In person, these guys deliver an excellent live set. I saw that at Intonation/Pitchfork a few years ago for the first time, and last Saturday, they hit the Metro for a two hour set following up on the set they played earlier in the day at Lollapalooza (which I did not attend). There are anywhere from 8 to 18 people on stage at all times, but it’s controlled chaos, and it sounds great.

White Rabbits – While We Go Dancing & Kid On My Shoulders

Both of these songs are from their debut album ‘Fortnightly‘, which I downloaded last month but to which I have finally made time to listen. When I first saw these guys about a month ago, I thought they sounded a bit like a more accessible version of the Walkmen. That was probably because the Walkmen were playing later that night. After a bunch of listens, I’ve backed away from that. They certainly are more accessible than the Walkmen (who are really an acquired taste), but they are far more consistently up-tempo, and much more melodic.

The first song, “While We go Dancing”, is the only song for which it looks like they have an actual video, so I’m guessing it’s their first single, but it’s not the song they played on David Letterman (which is called “The Plot”). Still, it’s one of my two favorite songs so far. It starts as a sort of hard driving but dark piece, and that takes a real U-turn at the hook laden and sweeping chorus.

The second song, “Kid On My Shoulders”, starts with a bit of a samba feel, what with the maracas and piano. It follows your basic path for the first three minutes, then erupts in a multi-voice chorus as they repeat “We held our tongues throughout it, one day we’ll laugh about it” (later reprised on the album).

Nicole Atkins & the Sea – The Party’s Over

So the other night I found my new indie crush, and it’s probably not an exclusive thing seeing as how she was in an American Express commercial that was pretty widely circulated. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that before she opened for the Raveonettes (who have a crush-worthy babe of their own).

Nicole Atkins is originally from Neptune, New Jersey, and despite having grown up a metal-head, she’s turned herself into quite the crooner, with a country/classical sounding voice that seems somewhat out of place, yet oddly perfect for the retro-pop that she’s made her calling card (no pun intended). The song selected is both the best song available on her myspace page (though Brooklyn is Burning is a close second), and the song used in the AMEX commercial.

Her style was a welcome lead-in the Raveonettes, who have found their own niche with 50s/60s style surf-rock/motown as delivered by the Jesus and Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine (listen to Noisy Summer and you’ll be trying to drain the feedback from your skull for a week). It was an evening from another time, like the Rat Pack opening for Buddy Holly if he were joined on-stage by Dick Dale.

Her new album is due out later this month, and she’ll be on Letterman on the 30th. She’s also very easy to look at for a 40 minute set. I’ll be honest, this isn’t normally the type of stuff I go in for. It’s more my sister’s speed, but there’s something about it I’m really digging on. I’ll fully admit that after the formerly known as Mazarin and Simple Kid triumphs, I may be laying an egg on this one, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. I just can’t get this song out of my head.

Here’s the AMEX ad if you want to know what she looks like (she was hotter in person)

Lil’ King Kong/Serotonin – Simple Kid

Earlier this year I made the mistake of skipping the opening act at the Shins show, and I’ve been kicking myself for it ever since. So yesterday, I finally decided peruse the internets (or the Rhapsodys) and see what I could find from Simple Kid, who opened for BRMC at the Metro last night (not their best performance, in my opinion, but I digress). Sounded decent, got to the show on time, and was figuratively blown away.

Ciaran McFeely is Simple Kid, sort of an Irish version of Beck with a Mac and and Banjo, and not so much the Scientology. Armed with videos, personality, and killer hooks, he plays the live stuff over the recorded stuff, and simply put, rocks the house. I’ve now listened to Lil’ King Kong about a million times in the last two days, and the rest of the album (his second, the appropriately titled ‘2’, which is available on emusic) is rapidly growing on me. Other standout tracks are Serotonin (vid below), Self Help Book, the Ballad of Elton John, and Mommy and Daddy, which was accompanied by videos of deceased professional wrestler Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree. He also performed a video duet on “It’s Not Easy Being Green” with Kermit the Frog. It’s on Youtube if you do some exploring. I’d also suggest checking the live version of “Average Man”.

Don’t be lazy and go straight to the video. Click the darn audio link.

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If You’re Into It – Flight of the Conchords

It’s questionable whether this meets the high standards of SOTD since it’s really kind of a parody song, and part of a larger television series. But gosh darnit if this isn’t the funniest damn show currently on television, I don’t know what is. And conveniently, HBO is making all of the episodes available on line, so you really have no reason not to watch, unless you’re completely humorless. These guys are kind of like Tenacious D, only funny, and from New Zealand.

I’ve now watched this video about 15 times.