Archive for the 'See Them Live' Category

Crocodiles – Sleep Forever

I was pretty excited to learn that these guys are opening for Japandroids a week from tomorrow, as I already have a ticket for that show, and I love when the opener turns out to be a band I like more than the headliner (not that I don’t like Japandroids). I’ve seen Crocodiles a couple times and their live shows are pretty good. Brandon Welchez seems like a good guy as well. We chatted over a couple beers the last time they played Schuba’s.

Crocodiles fall into the current genre of bands that basically devoured every Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, etc. album from the ’80s and ’90s. Despite taking their name from what is probably Echo and the Bunnymen’s second best album, their sound is pretty unmistakably shoegaze, but with pretty straightforward melodies, and tracks that don’t make you wait too long for the payoff. This song is the title track to their second album. They released their third, Endless Flowers, last year and a fourth is reportedly on the way in the next couple months.

Their first album, Summer of Hate, ends with a song that could have come right off a number of different Spacemen 3 collections. It actually sounds quite a bit like Take Me To the Other Side (probably my favorite Spacemen 3 song). I actually find that kind of great, since I once saw Brandon’s wife’s old band, the unfortunately named Grand Ole Party, open for Spiritualized. He’s married to Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls, so she’s found a little more success since then.

St. Rosa and the Swallows – The Thermals

A second straight “Coming Attractions” post, and get used to it, because there are a bunch of shows coming up in the next few weeks. I first saw the Thermals at the 2009 Pitchfork Festival, where, if memory serves, they played on the East stage in between sets from the Walkmen and Grizzly Bear (might have been before the Walkmen, in fact it probably was). I was going to just see the Walkmen and take off, but ran into some friends and stuck around. I didn’t give them much thought until their 2010 release Personal Life, which I didn’t love. But that’s OK, because I dug into their back catalog, and these days I probably listen to The Body, The Blood, The Machine at least once a week. They’re probably one of a handful of bands I’d currently call “my favorite”.

They’re playing Lincoln Hall tomorrow night (5/16) and I’m really looking forward to hearing them play in that space, because aside from the production on their first album, More Parts Per Million, their sound is pretty clean, and Lincoln Hall has absolutely tremendous acoustics. So far I’ve only seen them at festivals and at Logan Square Auditorium (not a great place for a show, but probably a great place if you’re looking to hold a Quinceanera for your 15 year old daughter). They’re a little too power-poppy to be punk, and a little too punk to be power-pop. But their stuff is almost all up-tempo major key, which means it’s more or less like aural crack for these ears.

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).

Marrow-St. Vincent

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is only into her second album and I am starting to have angst about maybe never seeing her live. UC prefers the more delicate but still theatrical numbers while I lean to the angular, fuzzy, mathy virtuosity ones. We previously had “Your Lips Are Red” from her here, and “Marrow” is in the same vein. Phenomenal.

There is also an extended intro version of this same song from a different angle at the same show on the Tuber should you wish to get into it more, also it seems more songs from this set as well (good quality).

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.

Donde Esta La Playa-The Walkmen

Opens with the sound of intrepid hunters silently moving through an oasis at the edge of a desert, a hushed, rumbly. An expansive, shimmery restrained theatricality. Very Walkmen. Very good. A wonderful new album You and Me. Phenomenal. Give in to them. Live or headphones so the space can be appreciated. I’d love this on record. There is a warmth there that I can’t quite place.

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.

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.

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.

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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I Might Be Wrong/There There-Radiohead (Live)

Bands that play European TV shows get production values like they are on CSI. And worth it too, the war Radiohead plays the sh*t out of these standouts from the last two albums. The mic picks up extra bass on the “I Might Be Wrong” clip, so you can actually hear how awesome it is. I think I like IMBW a little more than “There There,” but they are both sinuous little ice-prog charmers. Great renditions of both. Cue Seitz “meh.”

I Might Be Wrong

There There

Bohemian Like You-Dandy Warhols

Does it make me a bad person if I know someone that owns the actually karaoke disc for this song (not just the video, which is in the form of a karaoke video)? Does it make me an even worse person if I’m the one that bought it? Sometimes you needs some “woos” and “ooh ooh oohs.” Seriously, eat it if you are not down with the derivative and awesome stylings of the Dandy Warhols. Marginally not safe for work- the clip is unedited, and I think I saw someone’s doodle!

You Only Live Once-The Strokes

As much as you want to hate them. As much as they are over. Is conversely as much as they are awesome, unless you think they are awesome, then they still are. Outcome oriented opposite day. Get used to it. The all-occasions closing credit/outro song for your tasteful, yet short running television show/straight to video masterpiece. Fill in the black for pretentious analogies. At least Marc Hogan doesn’t write for this blog. Moron.

Testament to Youth In Verse-The New Pornographers

Many people will not like this song because of Dan Bejar’s voice, which I guess I can understand, but Geenie C. hates if for a different reason, the reason most people think that this song is altogether excellent. She hates the fact that the bells, they ring, and that they ring no no no no no no no no no no, and they do so in a like million part round. Here’s Geenie C.- “I GET IT. The bells FRACKING go NO NO NO NO NO. MOVE ON.” Wow, super harsh. Anyway, the last minute is great, and GC will freak her shit out if she watchs this because it is a random Harry Potter fanvid from You Tube! Hee hee. The point is the song and the very negative yet awesome bells. Listen for the delightful Neko Case and her wonderful voice going “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” at the end like the coolest, most refreshing drink of water imaginable.

Modern Love – Last Town Chorus

Yep, it’s that Modern Love. Only this time, it’s slowed way down, and played by a really hot chick with a steel guitar. And she’s even prettier in person.

Last Town Chorus is pretty much Megan Hickey and whoever she happens to have playing with her at the time. She just finished a stint opening for Michael Penn (whom I saw tonight), but it’s my understanding that she’ll be on her own tour sometime next month, at least in select cities.

This is one of those weird covers in that, for it’s style, it stays fairly faithful to the original. It doesn’t get all weird or anything. Contrast that with Grant Lee Phillips’ cover of Wave of Mutilation, which isn’t really GLP style (all singer-songwritery), but more almost calypso, which actually really works for that song. Still, if you heard someone playing it, you’d probably do a double take after the first verse because it wouldn’t hit you right away. Unfortunately, the studio recording doesn’t really capture how overwhelming the steel guitar is in person.

This is really a plug more than anything, because not only was she pleasant to listen to, and pleasant to look at, and kinda funny, she was very nice in person. And she sold me her CD, and signed it for me, and chatted briefly. She’s my new ‘rock’ crush.

Viva Voce – From The Devil Himself

Went to the Shins concert tonight, which was expectedly awesome. But there is very little interesting to write about seeing one of the best bands today at the top of their game. No, the actual massive surprise was from the opening band, Viva Voce, who kicked almost as much ass as The Shins did. OK, maybe half that ass, but that’s still an impressive ass and way more than the typical 3 Bulls half-ass. Viva Voce, who announced their name about six times during the show and added that they are from Portland, Oregon, are the classic husband/wife team. Kevin plays the drums, sings, and occasionally rocks out on the acoustic guitar, whereas Anita is a guitar goddess of the highest decree. She also has a great voice, and really should become Chuckles new rock crush, Eleanor Friedberger be damned. Their music ranges from almost ’60s-era folk rock to complete Yo La Tengo free-form freakouts, and they are witty and play with aplomb.

Most of the songs they performed, all of them excellent, were from their new album Get Yr Blood Sucked Out. The best song from the set was this track, nicely put to a cheeky video. Musically, it is not representative of the other tracks, but it’s really goddamned catchy. The song evokes a little Grateful Dead and some music that Pinko Punko totally knows and I just can’t get to the tip of my fingers. But it’s good in a familiar and awesome way. Anyway, check out the video and check out their other songs as their myspace page. We Do Not F*ck Around is another super good track, of which they opened and closed with different variations on the song.

In the event that this actually embeds properly ….

Another One Goes By – Mazarin

I’ve been pimping these guys for a while to no avail. I first saw Mazarin when they opened for Rogue Wave (along with Irving) at the Troubadour in Los Angeles about a year ago. I dug into some of their stuff, realized I liked it, then saw them again in Chicago at Schuba’s with about 90 of my closest friends.

The track selected is, in my opinion, the best track off of their 2005 album “We’re Already There”. It was the 36th best track of 2005 according to Darren Viola, and don’t fight me on that, because that dude has forgotten more about music than you or I will ever know. Some of you may know it as the last track off the latest Walkmen album “A Hundred Miles Off”. The Mazarin version is not only the original, but it’s better.

The thing is, don’t try looking for new stuff from these guys. Apparently there was some Long Island band called Mazarin that sued them and they decided to stop recording under that name. No word yet on what Quentin Stoltzfus will call the new version. It’s one of those bands that’s really one dude with some session musicians, and he gives the band a name instead of naming them after himself.

Similar to Earlimart, another personal favorite, this is a band that you have to listen to at about 100x normal volume to get an idea of what they sound like live. They are very loud. You’ll just have to listen to it to find out for yourself. Sorry, no video this time. They’re that freaking obscure.

PP adds: Song coming later when I can get into the 3B server.
Seitz adds: Don’t bother. We can use that embed thing that Plover used over at 3B. Check it: