Archive for the 'A Band You Should Love' Category

Eleanor Friedberger – Stare at the Sun and When I Knew (live)

Yesterday was one of my most anticipated days of the year, as it marked the release of the new Eleanor Friedberger album, Personal Record. Her first album, Last Summer, was one of my favorite albums of 2011, and in her live shows supporting that album, she previewed some of the material that would make up the new one, including the two songs posted today. This is, yet again, a coming attractions post. Eleanor will be at the Empty Bottle this Friday, June 7th.

Eleanor’s solo work is irresistibly catchy. It’s basically the poppy songs that the Fiery Furnaces used to produce without all of the weird Matthew Friedberger stuff. She co-wrote most of this album with John Wesley Harding. These are probably the two catchiest songs on the album.

I’ve liked the Fiery Furnaces for a long time, but I went totally into the tank for Eleanor when I saw them in June of 2010 at the Empty Bottle. My brother had flown in that morning from Anchorage for the Angels series at Wrigley Field, and he came to the show with me that night. The Fiery Furnaces hit the stage and played for an hour straight. And I mean straight, as in no breaks, not to say thank you, not to retune, not for applause. It was an hour long medley of about 25 different FF songs, with all of the crazy key and time signature changes that entails, and they didn’t miss a note. It was incredibly impressive. After playing a three song encore, the crowd began clearing out. By the time we made it to the door (which couldn’t have been more than 30 or 45 seconds) Eleanor was already sitting at the merch table. She was really sweet to talk to, and she complimented me on my Super Furry Animals t-shirt. It’s nice to listen to someone make really good music and also know that she’s a really cool person.

Below is the song that was my favorite “new” song from her live shows last year, When I Knew.

Nothing Ever Happened (Pitchfork Festival) – Deerhunter

Song of the Day makes its triumphant return, and how better to get this restarted then with arguably the song that prompted the reboot.  Pinko and I had been exchanging emails with regard to Stereogum’s incredibly trollish decision to post a list of Deerhunter’s 10 best songs, which didn’t include what is probably their consensus best song.

The group from Atlanta has just released Monomania, either their fourth, fifth, or sixth full length LP, depending on whether you consider a) Turn It Up, Faggot to be an actual LP, and/or b) Microcastle/Weird Era Ctd. to be one double album or two separate albums.  Either way, expect to see more tracks from that album as we get closer to their tour this fall (Chicago on September 10th).  Today’s post is from their epic Pitchfork performance in 2011, which for me was the highlight of the weekend, and concluded a pretty amazing two hours as they had come on right after Superchunk.

Admittedly, I didn’t finally dig into Deerhunter until Halcyon Digest was released in 2010.  It ended up being my second favorite album of the year, and a few years out is probably the album from 2010 that I listed to more than any other on a consistent basis.  All of their releases have what feel like instant hits (of which this is an example), but also songs with which you need to spend a lot of quality time.  I didn’t finally fall in love with Cryptograms (their first or second album) until just recently, even though it’s had songs that I’ve loved for a while.

Editor’s Note: We’re going to try to get back to posting pretty regularly, maybe a few times a week.  This could become a challenge to due work and/or laziness (moreso laziness), but hey, you’ve gotta have ambition.

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).

Generals and Majors-XTC

As I mentioned at the 3B!, I was simply astounded that this song was playing in the entryway Korean Market in sprawling Big Texas Megalopolis. My experience with the Korean Market soundtrack is that it tends very much to Asian or American ultra light Adult Contemporary, so this was incredibly surreal. I had to get out of there before they blew my mind with Capt. Sensible or something.

I think we all agree that XTC deserves more space that we currently give in on our collective zeitgeist hard drive.

Growing up in Deseret we had the ol’ new wave/modern rock station that played on occasion:

Generals and Majors
Making Plans for Nigel
Senses Working Overtime
Towers of London
Life Begins at the Hop
No Thugs in Our House
Love on a Farmboy’s Wages
King for a Day
Dear God
Mayor of Simpleton
Ballad of Peter Pumkinhead

And it wasn’t as if they were all that popular, but it of course was the time when you felt like you could play more that two songs by a band. I don’t think Talking Heads, who got much more play, had as many songs that would get pulled off the shelf.

UPDATE:

I think I must have also heard “Respectable Street” too

The Boy With the Arab Strap

One of my favorite songs ever. This version is exceptionally good. While it is quite similar to the album version, in this case the execution of such a facsimile enhances the feeling of vibrancy and connection. Certain songs can make your spine tingle a bit when you hear a live version that hits the tiny parts that you treasure, and because you are hanging on waiting for those brief moments, when they arrive they are that much more powerful.

Key aspect of this version is the faithful reproduction of the outro, which can be ad-libbed in other renditions. Also the volume gets pretty low on the album fade out so it can be very hard to catch, but here it is right there.

Summertime Clothes-Animal Collective

I needed to wait until posting this wasn’t seen as hipster, then I needed to avoid the accusation of bandwagon, then there was the minefield of the inevitable backlash. I hope I am in the realm of indifference/old news, but am likely in the land of poseur.

Creepy and psychedelic video for a surprisingly 80s-esque experimental art-wave straight up lovey dovey song about walking around at night in the city when it is too hot to sleep in your unstated 4th floor Brooklyn walk-up or some such. Works best for our Northeastern urban areas, 80s Sprite commercial type zones and from the Loop up to Wrigleyville. It is really a good tune.

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.

Car Radio-Spoon

Pandora birthed this effortless Spoon guitar triumphalism it’s so easy everything is perfect we are Spoon suck it talentless audience were are awesome Spoon who are you you are sad yeah I am but Spoon doesn’t even break a sweat it is so easy hey want to be pals really yeah wow you we be pals with me yeah we are Spoon we love everyone doesn’t everyone?

WARNING: Fan video.

NOTE: They won me over with the ol’ glass of milk gambit. Plus Spoon.

Make a Deal with the City-East River Pipe

I have entered a productive relationship with Pandora internet radio wherein songs I’ve never heard are played, and then I look on Emusic (not Emu-sic) and find they have the song. This is unpaid product placement at its finest. This is hazy bedroom psych at a very wonderful level. It just hits you with a very standard chord progression, the standard chord progression of almost uniformly awesome songs. This is the song of a lost mixtape presented to you by a friend of exceptional taste, the friends we all wish we are to other people the friends we strive to be. Therefore, I pass this to you.

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.

The Mountain (Live)-Heartless Bastards

We’ve loved Heartless Bastards for quite a bit, but ZRM gives us their newest, out very soon I think. Check it out at his place.

Interestingly the band is an entirely new lineup, save the lead singer, after the breakup of a long-term relationship within the band.

Fleet Foxes – Quiet Houses

A perhaps more obscure track from the Foxes deservedly-accoladed s/t debut. The first 2.5 minutes sound like vintage My Morning Jacket, but maybe more hypnotic. Then the piece shifts into a classic Brian Wilson Smiles-era instrumental. Wonderful composition throughout. Even though Pinko Punko says that he doesn’t like the instrumental stuff, I know he secretly loves this.

Into the Open-Heartless Bastards

I remembered to start listening to WOXY again, so I could find some new bands to scoop off of emusic. I heard the HB’s “Valley of Debris” and liked it so I got their last album All This Time. The album was so immediately listenable and engaging that I also picked up the earlier album emusic had, Stairs and Elevators. It is pretty good as well, but this is one of those situations where the band sounds fuller, more wonderful, deeper and more complex on the newer album. You can see that they are growing as artists and that is always nice to see such a progression. It may have just been the recording budget, but the songs just sound “more.” Here is a fairly good to excellent live video for “Into the Open” from All This Time.

Go buy now.

The Ghost Of You Lingers – Spoon

I post this song from the stellar Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga album for two reasons: First of all, I don’t think this song is getting the same radio play that Don’t Make Me A Target and You Got Yr Cherry Bomb are getting, whereas it is equally stunning. The intensity of the piano chords gives the music a creepy and pulsating feeling. The video captures that well.

Most importantly, this is a massive FU to every one of you haterz that has ripped on Supertramp now or ever. Well, just eat it. This is the demonic and supreme reincarnation of the Supertramp sound and it reigns on your feeble souls. There.

Shoot You Down-The Stone Roses

Sugary-spun shuffling psychedelia. I always post songs from this album (The Stone Roses) with the admonishment that this is one of the nastiest albums that you don’t ever think is that nasty because the sound is so lazy hazy summery drug Sunday. This is one of the most obviously nasty of the bunch. King Monkey spreads the hate with a matter-of-fact-smirk on his face. Think this is the Bad Acid at Woodstock:The Next Generation with Ian Brown, lead singer, as the Jean Luc Picard of Manchester hippie pub club drug thug.

Vittorio E.-Spoon

Spoon are inconceivably good in a package that is so seemingly demure and lacking in superfluous flourishes that I am astounded. In reality, this means they are usually quite entertaining and listenable, but they rarely floor me. This, from Kill the Moonlight, is a one of those rarer, wonderful times.

All I Need-Radiohead

I find Radiohead’s In Rainbows to be an exquisite collection of songs but one that gives me pause. I find them to be wonderful, yet with the semblance of odds and ends, and essentially this is what the album is. Many of the songs seem perfect yet half finished, opaque, secretive. Out of all of Radiohead’s work, In Rainbows most reminded of the My Iron Lung EP, a collection of non-album tracks circa The Bends. If I compare In Rainbows to the last Radiohead album, Hail To The Thief, I feel HTTT is both much more cohesive but also not as good. I wonder if the band is somehow losing steam or energy, the dissipation of which still leaves a residue of genius and wonder. I guess I am thinking these things because I wonder if a time will come when all Radiohead will have all but evaporated into warm and elusive half tones and murmuring (tasteful and great, though). I find that “All I Need” reaches a clarity that is sublime.

Night Walks-Black Mountain

Haunting spaced out drug rock elegy. The recording isn’t too bad on this version. Takes about 2.5 minutes to get started, but what I find totally unastounding is that there are some choads that just kind of chat the whole time. You know, the people that have an infinite amount of bar time and an infinite amount of shows that they see, and they go to bars on show night to just drink at the bar and blabber during some totally awesome song. From their latest, In the Future.

Parachute Woman/Jig-Saw Puzzle-Rolling Stones

Love these two from Beggar’s Banquet. The Rock and Roll Circus (live) version of “Parachute Woman” is decent and on YouTube, but it loses an edge, as opposed to gaining one as many songs do. Just some skeezy blues (the former) and some Dylan apery (the latter), but quite good.

Tired of Waiting-The Kinks

Kind of like the polite flipside of the Stones “Satisfaction”. Kinks songs are popping up the last few years all over commershes and stuff, but I don’t sweat it, I hope they are making bank. Totally classic.