This is how cool I am (I am not cool)

It’s official. We have come to the part of Spring quarter where I am completely insane. Should have made time for the gym during midterms week, I guess. No time to dwell on such things…I have been planning this post for a long, long, long time. When writing this one, I had some decisions to make: use my favorite song by the band, or one with a music video? Actually, that wasn’t even a choice. Music video. Visuals are important here.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the mid-2000s pop-punk scene. Chicago, specifically. Now, while this band is still together (and had better stay that way), at this point, I consider them a relic of a lost scene, the remnants of a pop-punk scene not made of gaudy neon, semi-ironic autotune, and horror–a pop-punk scene I could, and did love.  This scene died a while ago, and love them or hate them, I’m pretty sure the indefinite hiatus of Fall Out Boy, its breakout stars, is as good as a grave-marker.

This post is not about Fall Out Boy. Rather, it is about a Chicago pop-punk band I have always loved with all my heart (and not just because they are pretty), the oh-so-wonderful The Academy Is… !

Stop! I see you running away, sans the respect you once had for me, there! You are correct in your assessment that I have no shame, but this band is genuinely awesome. I really think they’re one of the standouts of their scene, and not just because I stumbled into their music during my angst-filled fifteenth year, and not just because I listened to that music and it helped that much younger and much, much angstier version of me hold her shit together.  They have the right influences and the right kind of drive, and hey–I’m advocating a girly pop-punk band and I’m turning twenty this month. They have to be pretty good, right?

This is a track off of their debut, chosen for the combined awesomeness of the track and the video. It was one of the first two songs I ever heard by them, and man…It’s catchy as fuck, with punchy riffs and angry lyrics, sung by a very pretty frontman with a very pretty voice. I bought that album after hearing this, because how could I not?  The video is some tour footage, a combination of performance shots (which will explain to you exactly why I’ll be seeing this band live again the next time they come around, fourteen year old audience be damned), and behind the scenes tomfoolery (which is amusing). Simply put, this is what I want from my pop-punk–a solid fucking song played by some pretty dudes that like to goof off for a camera. Feast your eyes and ears on “Checkmarks.” Ten points and a motherfucking gold star to anyone who can guess which member of the band is my favorite. Does not count you already know.

So suck your so-called pity down.
Hey, that’s not so bad, is it?
So take your cold, cold heart and drown
and don’t forget to take deep breaths.


My Australia obsession

I have, in recent years, cultivated something of an obsession with the fantastic, folk-tinged, summery alternative rock coming out (or rather, failing to come out–more on that later) of Australia. I have this thing where I really enjoy gorgeous, upbeat music, and Australians tend to make a whole lot of it. This, of course, leads to endless frustration and sorrow none of them ever tour the US or even release their music in this country. In their defense, the infinite frustration is totally worth it, because the music is awesome.

The latest object of my obsessive attentions is a recent addition to the Australian music scene which I so covet–they just released their first EP, With Emperor Antarctica, last year. And it actually charted! Boy And Bear must clearly be magic, because I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of musician mafia meant to keep first EPs from charting. It is against all the rules. Which, okay…it’s a pretty fantastic EP, all awash with lovely Fleet Foxes influences, but way more upbeat and energetic and filled with spiffy riffs.

The centerpiece of the EP, and in my mind, the absolute standout, “Mexican Mavis” has been receiving an absolutely incredible amount of repeat play from me from the moment I heard it. It started winning my heart right off the bat with some very pretty Fleet Foxes-esque vocal harmonies, and sealed the deal with a ridiculously catchy riff. Once I took the time to appreciate their singer’s sultry voice, and absolutely fantastic vocal delivery–I just love the way he curls that voice around the unusual turns of phrase that make up the lyrics–I was a motherfucking goner. (Though I probably would have fallen just for the riff. I’m easy like that.) This song is the perfect mixture of beautiful and energy-driven, and there’s so many more amazing things about it that you should go and discover for yourself right now,  and I should stop talking about it now so that you can join me in listening to it on repeat. Here is “Mexican Mavis” by Boy & Bear.

If they manage to keep safe skin
He’ll call for her
She’ll call for him

We interrupt this program for…

I was working on a long, fancy, post, but then exciting things happened! If you are reading this blog, you probably already know my very, very lovely friend Another Friend, and his uber-fantastic band Under a Western Sky! If, by some chance, you are a stranger to their lovely sounds, here’s what you need to know: they are some really awesome, talented dudes, who just finally recorded their very first EP! I’ve been lucky enough to have it in my ear holes for a while, and now everyone else in the world can have it in theirs, too, for the price of absolutely zero dollars!

It is a fantastic EP, with five tight, awesome songs–it’s filled with great riffs, bass parts, beastly drums, breakdowns, lyrics, and some fucking awesome screaming. You would never believe this shit was recorded in a home studio. So you should download it. Now. Please? For them? For me? But mostly for you, because you deserve to have your face rocked off. I’ve not missed one of this band’s shows yet, and there is a reason for that. Do you want to find that reason out? I think you do.  Click on the pretty link!

25th Post!

Finally, an anniversary type post! Why yes, it has taken me this long to get to 25 posts. That’s why this anniversary post is all special and shit–next one’s not coming for another 500 years. So, I figured I’d save the most special of songs, all-time favorites and such, for anniversary posts. Are you excited yet?

Good! Let’s take that excitement, and draw it out until the point of death with a long rant about music. I think saying that I love music would be stating the beyond obvious. There is music that is emblematic of every significant moment in my life; the right song  keeps me sane when I’m losing my mind, the right song that makes me happy when I’m sad. There’s this piece on piano that I have poured about every bit of negative emotion I’ve had since I’ve learned how to play it into. I don’t think I even have words for what music means to me, and I am full of the words!

The first time I listened to this album was the day I first toured Santa Cruz, and I played it non-stop for the scary, thrilling months that followed. It, along with the rest of this artist’s stuff, never fails to make me happy. The artist in question? He is one of my top five favorites in the world ever, not to mention the source of my raging obsession with Australian music. I’ve posted a song of his before, but this time, I’m whipping out what might be my very favorite one. It’s Josh Pyke time (which is the best time)!

Josh Pyke is Australian-accented, sunshine-dosed, beautifully-arranged, joy-saturated singer-songwriter wonderfullness. I have been obsessed since I bought his 2007 album, Memories & Dust–which I did not find out about until 2009, thanks to the very lovely fact that none of his albums so far have been out in the States. The next one, which is coming out in August, which I am way, way, way too excited about, might actually be out here. In which case he might actually tour here. In which case I might get to see him live, and die of happiness.

The song I have selected for your aural pleasure is a fantastic in every possible sense of the word–first off, it’s a waltz, which is something I love to pieces. But then again, there is nothing I don’t love about the damn thing. I love the piano part; I love the tone of the guitar, the absolutely fucking elegant arrangement. I love the warmth of his voice, and the fact that he sings with an accent–the pretty lyrics, and the flawless song-structure; love the verses (they do that thing where each successive verse intensifies), chorus, bridge (seriously, the bridge). Basically, this Josh Pyke can do no wrong, and this song has never even heard of wrong. I could hit repeat for days.

Here is “Covers Are Thrown.” Listen to it and feel joy.

And I kick them off,
In the night when we’re sleeping.
So we wake from our warm dreams,
To find ourselves freezing.

See you in another twelve years, motherfuckers.

Continuing the trend of posting late concert recaps…

The New Pornographers last Sunday, ohhh my goodness. That show made me way, way too happy.

I was pretty sure it was going to be awesome, because New Pornographers–but that was above and beyond what I expected. I have never seen a band do massively multi-part harmonies like that live. I have never seen indie kids come so alive at a show, but how could they not? Their music is so completely full of joy as to overwhelm all capacity for coolness–not that I have any of that in the first place, but I wasn’t the only one dancing! It was all so pretty and so full of happy. Also, Kendal went with me, and that was pretty cool or something.

Here is a live video of “The Crash Years,” because them playing this song made me so happy and I want to see them over and over again.

Woooooot shows

So, I figured since it’s been two weeks and two shows since A Day to Remember/Bring Me the Horizon/We Came as Romans/Pierce the Veil, so I figured I should, you know, finally write about it. Whole day was filled with awesome, from waking up and getting deelicious food (falafel!) to road-tripping up to San Francisco with Kendal + Tanner + Another Friend, to making fun of ridiculous scene kids in line (tiny girls! pulling combs out of their pockets! and burning their eyeliner and reapplying it ever four minutes!), to you know, the actual show.

Pierce the Veil played first, which was silly because they were infinitely better than We Came As Romans. They were, however, fuckin’ awesome, what with the opening with “Besitos” and closing with “Caraphernalia” and the kicking ass in general. They kicked so much ass that I was compelled to purchase entirely more merch than I was going to. And this is how I came to own my red shorts, which you have probably seen already (80 kadjillion times). But here is a picture of them from a merch site just in case! I even found one that didn’t come with creepy, disembodied legs!

They are the best thing. They make me so happy. And I guess Pierce the Veil does too, or something. 😛 The reason they’ve been stuck in my head pretty much non-stop since the show is not because I enjoyed them, or anything. Naaaaaaaw. (I jest, thanks for showing me them, Another Friend!)

Next up was We Came As Romans, whose ratio of cutesy stage moves to actually good songs was not favorable. I’m pretty sure there were some pretty people in the band or something, so I guess the fourteen year old girls were excited, but I’m not exactly sure why they played after PTV. Current theory: they gave A Day to Remember better blowjobs.

Bring Me the Horizon! The band that I’d been aware of and resisting for years, based on the reasoning that fourteen year old girls like Oli Sykes because he’s pretty, and therefore I should not like his band. Well, fuck it. I like his band. Oli Sykes is fucking entrancing on stage, and I love his screaming style (ie. rip out vocal chords for audience pleasure). Another Friend was very good and predicting what songs would get played when for this one. I went out and bought a CD right after this set, and another one shortly thereafter, which is I guess my way of saying BMTH put on one hell of a show. On a totally unrelated note, I am totally back on body-mods on guys now. Also, fourteen again. The tiny scene girls, sometimes they are not wrong…

A Day to Remember had this ridiculously elaborate stage setup and over the course of the show, shot confetti at the audience twice, showered the crowd with balloons, threw t-shirts, rolls of toilet paper, and rolled their lead singer on top of the crowd in a giant bubble. I kept wondering how much throwing all that shit at the audience every day must cost and also managed to bruise my knee even though I was up in the seats. My jumping up and down without jumping forward skills, they are lacking. Fun set.

In conclusions, it was a great fucking time, even though I hate being stuck in seats, and I need to watch both Pierce the Veil and Bring Me the Horizon headlining things again soon. I forgot I missed scene shows. The pure focus on music that most indie shows have is fantastic, but watching a band fucking work their asses off to entertain the crowd, lead singers putting themselves at the mercy of enthusiastic crowds, synchronized stage moves, and an intense focus on swoopy hair, I need those things, too. Oh shit! I made a post about something that wasn’t indie rock. Now that this tragically overdue recap is done, I can get started on my next one, about that one show I went to two years ago!

Hello, Spring!

One of these days, I will start a blog about growing up Russian-Jewish, and expound on the many things that can be found in sour-cream containers (not usually sour-cream), how many types of horseradish it is appropriate to have in ones fridge, the various illnesses cured by tea, and the uncanny ability of non-English-speaking grandmothers to communicate with ones American friends using food. However, for now, you’ll have to content yourself with music.

Home was good. Gah, new quarter has started whether or not I’m ready to face it. I wish I could sleep another week…

My goals for this quarter: play more instruments, take my vitamins, buy all the CDs…and of course, gradesgradesgradesgradesgrades.

Illinois is a state whose music scene I became intimately familiar with when I got into pop-punk, back in the day. It’s always kind of a surprise to get into a band from there and have them not be pop-punk/on the same label as a bunch of other Illinois bands I know/touring with three other bands from Illinois. The band of the day is not a pop-punk band and not part of the Chicago scene. They don’t even live in Chicago, but in Champaign, Illinois which Wikipedia tells me has a population of 81,000.

Their sound is…not what I would expect from a band residing in a small, Midwestern city. Though, truth be told, I’m not really sure what that would even be…Less upbeat, probably. Elsinore, however, is upbeat, staunchly alternative-based indie-pop. The song I will be gushing about today is off their 2010 album Yes Yes Yes. It is awesome, and I will tell you why!

The song in question has verses that sound a bit like early Strokes, with prettier vocals, and you know, elves playing the instruments. (In case you need to ask, I mean Tolkien elves. Please.) Bear with me! There’s this ethereal touch to the music that one does not recall the early 2000s garage rock revival. And then, counterpoint to the alternativeness of the verses, there’s this big, orgasmic, pop-tastic chorus. Which, anyone who’s read any of this blog at all is probably sick of hearing about how much I love those already. This one makes me want to jump and dance around like an idiot. Okay, “want” and “to” probably should not be in that last sentence. They imply that I do not actually do these things.

The whole thing is tied together with a good guitar part, what I’m pretty sure is synth, and a really nice vocal delivery. If you listen to this song, which has a rich sound that belies the absolutely ridiculous amount of studio time that was spent on the album it’s on, and a warmth that has nothing to do with recording and everything to do with the awesome, talented, possibly-elfin musicians who wrote and recorded it, you will want to jump and dance around, too. Also, ridiculous music video.

Here is “Chemicals” by Elsinore.

Hey, love,
I’ve got you on my back I’m thinking of
the chemicals
are something to be reckoned with, oh