Monthly Archive for May, 2013

Randy Newman – I Love L.A.

You will have to forgive me this (probably) one time indulgence. I was born in Southern California. I lived there for 25 years. Despite spending the most recent third of my life in the Midwest, the blood coursing through my veins is that of an Angeleno. Nearly 12 years in Chicago has done nothing to change that. This became all the more relevant on Wednesday night, when the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings, setting up a Western Conference Finals between the local Blackhawks (for whom my feelings vary between loathe and indifferent), and my Los Angeles Kings, a team I have loved since I was old enough to remember going to hockey games. The series begins tomorrow. Gonna be a fun two weeks!

The Kings play a snippet of this song after every goal, which is why I’ve chosen it. I still remember when this song came out. It was in the lead-up to the 1984 Olypmics in Los Angeles, and everyone was convinced that L.A. needed an official song, so Quincy Jones and some other people wrote a song for Frank Sinatra that would sound like New York, New York, or Chicago, My Kind of Town, or whatever. It really fell flat and no one liked it (at least that’s how I choose to remember it). But Randy Newman’s song, warts and all, really captured the L.A. aesthetic at the time, and resonated with the local populace. It was the like the music version of the era’s Showtime Lakers. It’s been a staple (no pun intended) at Kings and Lakers games ever since. It’s cheesy, but somehow this song always makes me feel connected to Los Angeles.

Go Kings!

War On Drugs-Baby Missiles

Slacker.fm has been loading these guys up on one of my stations, and every time they come on pop out of my office cave and check the spacelab computer that is blaring music for who the artist is, and it has been War On Drugs for three different tracks. This is just a driving driving driving song. A little bit of a Bruce feel without sounding like the Boss, and it is funny there is a slight Kurt Vile here, and this is his band, except he’s not on this album because he’s been doing his solo stuff for awhile. These guys are hard to explain- Tom Petty sound collage with reverb or psychedelic freeway rock pop. This is from their last album, 2011’s Slave Ambient. Live versions brings out the Dylan-isms (also the harmonica). Focus on the sound of the band and if he’s too much live, the vocals are better balanced

Bad Veins – Gold and Warm

This would be another in the Coming Attractions series, as I just completed a purchase of tickets to see them on June 20th at a small venue down the street from me called Beat Kitchen. I’ve seen them once before when they opened for the Joy Formidable at a larger venue, and I just missed them one other time when they opened for the now defunct The Subjects a couple years ago. In my own defense, I missed them because the Angels were playing the Red Sox in the playoffs and I wanted to see as much of the Angels game as possible before leaving.

I was encouraged to get into these guys by the music writer for Chicagoist, Jim “Tankboy” Kopeny, with whose brother I attended law school. Their hook, aside from catchy melodies, is the third member of their band, Irene, a large reel to reel player. Lead singer Benjamin Davis also will occasionally sing into an old telephone, which produces a really cool sound in a live setting.

This song is from their self titled first album, which was released in 2009. They subsequently released an EP (Outliers). Their follow up album, The Mess We’ve Made, was released last year. It’s a little more slickly produced than the first album, maybe a little more poppy, but still shows the songwriting craft they displayed on the debut. Gold and Warm is my favorite song off of the first album.

TEEN – Better

TEEN is the project of Kristina Lieberson who was in Here We Go Magic, a band on my radar forever. I think I even have an album of theirs, but was never really able to buy in, but that’s probably my own fault. TEEN is opening for Eleanor Friedberger on her upcoming tour, and she’s one of those artists for whom I have so much respect that I’ll check out the opener because I can’t imagine her choosing a band I wouldn’t want to listen to.

I like this album a fair amount, and I really like this song, but I have to agree with the Pitchfork review to a certain extent. This is an album filled with a bunch of really great three minute songs. The problem is that they’re all five to six minutes long. Some better production and editing on that end could have made a big difference.

They have a new EP out called Carolina, which you can stream at Stereogum probably for a few more days before it’s a officially released. I haven’t been able to spend much time with it yet, but the first song (the title track) is really great, and I think it’s got a real Cocteau Twins sound to it.

Parquet Courts – Master of My Craft & Borrowed Time

These two songs flow into one another so well, that I really didn’t feel like I could post only one. Like Foxygen, this is a band I’d heard a lot of about, but didn’t bother to listen to until they were listed on what appeared to be a lackluster Pitchfork Festival lineup. I’ve been listening to this album about three times a day for the last couple weeks.

I hear Television, Jonathan Richman, Art Brut, Guided By Voices, and hell, probably a few other things on this album as well. As other reviewers have noted, they bring a stoner aesthetic, but you can tell that these guys actually really do care about about what they’re committing to a recording. I’d suggest checking out what is probably their most buzz-worthy track, Stoned and Starving. It’s five minutes of genius on an album where it seems like half the songs fail to break the two minute mark. Really can’t wait to see these guys live.

Foxygen – Shuggie

I kind of had a hard time deciding between this song, San Francisco, and No Destruction. I went with this one because it features a few different styles. These guys are basically ’60s revival, but where the Brian Jonestown Massacre are doing the Stones, Foxygen is heavy into the Kinks and Donovan. They’re a couple of guys based in L.A., and if you’re in the right mood, their stuff is really good. Though it’s kind of hard to tell whether they’re sincere or maybe a bit affected.

They’re playing Pitchfork this year, and because I thought the lineup on the whole kind of sucked, it served as a good motivator to listen to bands on my radar that I hadn’t yet made time for. As a result, they’ve become one of my new musical obsessions. I’ll probably post another one of those on Wednesday.

Deep Sea Diver – Ships

So I think we’ve had an ever changing naming convention here where sometimes the band name is first, and sometimes the song title is first. I’m going to try to consistently do what I didn’t do on the last few entries and put the band name first, just because it sounds right to me. Moving on…

Deep Sea Diver is basically Jessica Dobson and her band. You may recognize Jessica as the girl who played lead guitar for the Shins for the last couple years before leaving the band to get her solo project in gear, and the result is Deep Sea Diver. This is the first song off their first album, History Speaks. They opened for Telekinesis the other night and really put on a really good show despite a sparse attendance, which isn’t unusual for an opener on a Wednesday night.

I might as well as use the Shins as a reference point, and they sounds like a bit of a darker version of the Shins. I’m also a sucker for shifting time signatures, so I like this song a lot.

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.

Car Crash – Telekinesis

The first of many “Coming Attractions” posts that can be found at SotD in the near future. Telekinesis will be at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on Thursday night, where I’ll be seeing them for the first time. Telekinesis is basically Michael Benjamin Lerner, though the lineup will be filled out for the live tour (Rebecca Cole of the Minders and Wild Flag will be on keys).

I’m not sure how best to describe Telekinesis other than it’s fairly generic indie rock. Like if you were putting together a presentation and you needed an example of a band that exemplifies the genre, this would be a good choice. Maybe they fall a bit on the power-pop side of things. Lerner is from Seattle, and I definitely hear some Nirvana influences, but not on the production end of things. It’s not really retro (unless ’90s is retro), garage, experimental, lo-fi, or any wing of indie rock. Sort of like Metric if the lead singer were a guy, or maybe Ted Leo just taken down a notch or so.

This is from the second album 12 Desperate Straight Lines, which is probably my favorite of their three so far. They recently released their third album, Dormarion, which is also pretty good. It’s very accessible stuff that may not really linger forever, but it’s fun while you’re listening to it, and I have a feeeling it will sound good in a live setting.

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.