Tag Archives: Indie

The perils of new releases

When an album you’ve been waiting for a long time finally comes out, it’s scary. I’ve got quite a few years of music consumption neatly organized on the giant shelf in my room at my parents’ house now, so I’ve known the feeling of putting on the new album of a band you adore and coming to the horrifying conclusion that it sucks. It hasn’t happened too many times, but that kind of disappointment is a pretty vivid memory. It puts a note of stress in the excitement of a new release.

I picked up Port of Morrow by The Shins on Tuesday night (Yes, I bought it the day it was released. They took five years to put the thing out–I wasn’t waiting another day.), and as I lay curled up in bed, listening to it for what is perhaps the fourth or fifth time, I am pleased to report that for me, at least, it’s not a disappointment.

On Port of Morrow, elements of each of The Shins’ previous albums blend with a new kind of maturity. James Mercer’s voice is beautiful and clear as ever; his lyrics are still these lovely, unique strings of words. The production is rich and warm. I’m going to stop now before this starts sounding more like a review than the ramblings of an excited fan who is eager to spread her budding affection for this album.

One of my favorites so far is the album’s opener, “The Rifle’s Spiral”. It’s a gorgeous, catchy track with a bit of darkness mingled with The Shins’ characteristic warmth. The lyrics are fantastic; James Mercer’s voice makes me so happy…so does the instrumentation (there’s a bit of a bass solo!). A fantastic album opener–settled my nerves and made me comfortable in the knowledge that The Shins were still awesome after five years gone. Listen!

Primitive mural on the wall,
to fortify your grim resolve.
And made the glitz of a shopping mall
another grain of indigent salt to the sea.

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Okay, time to actually start posting again

I maybe, slightly, kind-of-sort-of forgot that I’m meant to be writing this, for a while. I have been working some, which I guess has expeller processed many other things out of my brain. Also, I’ve been listening to so much Yeasayer that it almost feels unfair to write about anything besides them, and I’m preeeetty sure there is a finite number of Yeasayer posts one blog should have (not that I’ve reached it yet, but I’m saving them, okay!). But now that I’ve done a Warped-recap post, all is healed, and I will magically have all of the motivation for posts again, right? ………………………………………….AGREE WITH ME!

One of the non-Yeasayer songs that has been giving me happy tingles this summer was made by an Irish band which is signed to a French label. The whole album it belongs to is pretty tirelessly upbeat, and is exactly what you need for all manner of driving-to-the-beach and sprawling-lazily-on-your-bed adventures. It would be highly appropriate during a picnic, or…frolicking. It would be excellent frolicking music. What I am saying is that this is one hell of a summer album, though I promise you can listen to it during other parts of the year, too. The album in question is, of course, the very excellent Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club, and if you want catchy things to make you happy forever, you should go buy it.

Though there is a number of standout tracks, including the awesomely bouncy “I Can Talk,” which is like my favorite song to listen to at the gym ever, the one I am going to be rambling about today is the relentlessly/awesomely upbeat and optimistic “Something Good Can Work”. Why this song? Because it is a-bit-under-three-minutes of joy recorded, ready to be sent into your brain at any moment. Bad day? “Something Good Can Work”. Stupid fight? “Something Good Can Work”. Sad picture on the internet? “Something Good Can Work”. Etc, forever. The ridiculously cheerful guitar tone, happy bass line, lightly Irish-accented (yes!) vocals, and the (SHUT UP DYLAN THEY’RE AWESOME) synth-y drums all combine for maximum joy-creation. …I’m just going to stop writing now, so you can be happy, too.

“Let’s make this happen, girl
We’re going to show the world
That something good can work
And it can work for you”

P.S. The uber-cute and really simple music video does not hurt in the slightest. Look at how adorable they are! Look at how high that lead-singer wears his guitar, and how floppy his hair is! I want to keep them in my pocket!

P.P.S. Okay, okay, I can’t do this. I’m not a monster! Have the “I Can Talk” video, too. It must be danced around the room to. DANCE!


Yeasayer? Why yes, I did see them on my birthday.

Because of course it’s late. In my defense, there was no way I could have made time for anything resembling a blog post at the end of last quarter. Just….no. These past two weeks of not writing? That one’s on me. My bad! I am not, however, passing up an opportunity to gush about Yeasayer. Gushing about Yeasayer has become a sacred duty for me. I must sing their praises to the skies or die in shame. In case that last paragraph didn’t give it away, I really, really enjoyed my birthday show. Kendal Fong is like the best roommate ever, or something, and I hope she enjoyed our adventure despite her erm, possessions mishap. Possessions mishaps are not fun.

After some time spent searching for the possessions that were mishapped, we acquired dolmas sandwiches at Falafel of Santa Cruz, which I am so, so addicted to (I had one today when I was moving out the remains of my stuff. You should be jealous. If you are not jealous, I am afraid for you), and set off for San Francisco. The traffic on the way up wasn’t too crazy, and we got super cheap parking, and only had to call my dad like four times and make him look up directions when we were walking from the parking to the Fillmore (which is such, such a good venue.) Only.

We were able to immediately secure really awesome spots, and since we’d taken so long to actually find the damn venue (Yeasayer’s bus was blocking it so you could not see it from across the street, okay!), we did not have to wait long at all for the first opener. The first opener was… …. …. Words, they fail me. An extremely skinny and  bearded hipster dancing like Ian Curtis one of the times he was actually having a seizure on stage and words that could make professional writers of erotica flinch to some beats on his ipod? Here is his website : http://www.hushhushhush.com/. There is a music video. I am afraid to watch it, but hopefully it can do a better job expressing him than I can. Let’s just say I’m pretty sure Yeasayer’s plan was to make sure the indie kids had no choice but to dance by putting a human being that had never even heard of the concept of self-consciousness on stage first. Awkwarding everyone into being incapable of coolness? A valid stratagem?

The second opener was Smith Westerns, and I thought they were pretty adorable at first, but their set felt samey after a while and I wanted Yeasayer, dammit. And then the glorious moment came. I was really hoping they would open with either of their album openers, because I think those are so well-selected. And lo and behold, they opened with the intro of “The Children” and then went into “Sunrise,” effectively opening with both their album openers, and blowing my brain out (though that might have also been their ridiculous, awesome lightshow.) Beyond that, they played pretty much every song I wanted to hear live, with the exception of “Love Me Girl,” and the rest of “The Children” (which, I cannot really blame them for not bringing a fan on stage. I don’t really know how that one would work, tbh.) The crowd was awesome, particularly during “O.N.E.” and “Ambling Alp,” and the band was super high-energy and drinking steadily from cups of some manner of amber-colored hard alcohol, and therefore adorably drunk.

They did “2080” as an encore, which was glorious and beautiful and magical. That song is the first Yeasayer song I ever heard/fell madly in love with, so…It has a place. A place lodged inside of my skull and somewhere under my breast-bone…They also played new songs (!!!), which I loved, especially “Henrietta,” which is super 80s vibey, and fantasastic. I went on an epic search of the youtubes for the best live recording of this one, because everyone should experience it. In the end, picking one was hard.

This one shows off their killer live show (and Chris Keating’s well-dressed hotness) the best:

And this one has really nice sound-quality, but is shot from a distance:

I guess which one you prioritize is up to you!

At any rate, everyone ever who doesn’t already should listen to Yeasayer, and everyone should see them live. Way, way too absurdly awesome.


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.


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


This band….

Every once in a while, when listening to an album, I’ll think about how it found its way into my life. There’s lots of different paths that music takes into my collection—a veritable cornucopia of online radio stations, favorite playlists, and random occurrences. The way I came to know this particular band is probably the most interesting story out of the bunch. Now, I am really, really shit at taking music recommendations. “Listen to this band,” someone will say, and I won’t mean anything by it, but I will have forgotten all about it fifteen minutes later. I need to hear music to care enough to commit it to memory.

This band was recommended to me by a very interesting person I once met and knew briefly. And um, the only way I can cope with some of the memories of that particular acquaintance (when they come to mind) is by telling myself that outbreaks of skull-crushing awkwardness are an essential part of every teenaged life. Man, thinking about myself at sixteen makes me feel old…That being said, that first meeting definitely numbers among the most interesting first meetings I’ve had, and it was during that first meeting that I was recommended Nightmare of You. (Just ‘cause a story’s interesting, doesn’t mean I’m actually telling it. :P)

I wound up actually listening to this damn band, of all the bands anyone has ever told me to listen to. And man, I am really, really glad. They are so cool, you guys. Their lead singer, one Brandon Reilly, previously of The Movielife and even more previously of The Rookie Lot, a band that contained most of the people that would go on to form Brand New, is a pint-sized collection of cynicism, sweaters, awesomeness, and really good quotes. Their music is some combination of upbeat, 80s-via-Smiths-and-Cure melodies and riffs and fabulous, vitriolic, clever lyrics. It’s everything anyone could ever want. You and everyone you know should love them.

The song I have for your consideration today, from their self-titled, while one of the best songs on the album and anywhere, is not usually my “let’s pimp Nightmare of You out to everyone I know!” song of choice. Granted, that is because that album has a song called “In the Bathroom Is Where I Want You” and a song with a music video that involves a clone of Brandon Reilly being beaten to death by the band. However, I am really feeling it today, and shouldn’t a song that can beat out those other, ridiculously awesome things get your attention? The song in question is upbeat as fuck with a really fun riff, and some brutal, accusatory lyrics. There are horns and synth and a catchy chorus driven by a strong beat. There is what is possibly one of my favorite bridges in any song ever. There is Brandon Reilly’s awesome voice. This song is so good. So, so, so good. “Why Am I Always Right?” by Nightmare of You. Listen to it. Listen to it now.

Stick a fork in a socket
Do what you like
Just make sure that I’m far out of your life
Take an axe to your fingers
Carve your eyes
Cut out your tongue and we’ll call this a tie
Cut out your lying tongue and we’ll call this a tie


What’s my excuse for this one?

So, I may have skipped almost a month again. Oooops. Can I just blame the insanity that is the end of the quarter and ignore the fact that I’ve been done with finals for almost a week? I’ve been sick, okay! Still am, actually. :/ See, none of this has anything to do with laziness! See how I am suffering to share some pretty music with you, overcoming my illness, all that? (Okay, I’m done now. )

Today, I bring to you some absolutely adorable indie-pop from Houston, Texas. (One of these days, I will get around to blogging about something less indie. I promise I’m not actually this cool. Anyone who has any illusions to that effect will have them shattered VERY SOON.) My brief inquest about the band in question turned out very little information, other than the fact that they hang out in Texas, and sell out shows there. They look very young in their photos, and did I mention ADORABLE?

So, this here song has everything anyone (namely, me) could ever want. There’s those boy-girl vocals I like so much, plentiful harmonies, some really sweet keys, and a pleasing, mellow drum-beat. They remind me a bit of Ra Ra Riot – strings + a lady. This is a good thing. There’s some really pretty voices, a really nice instrumental part, and all of it blends together just…way too nicely. So uh, just relax, let the harmonies wash over you, and enjoy “Skin Collision Past” by Wild Moccasins.


swollen tears swallowed by a pavement sea
authority figures look for me

If you would like to see the adorableness in action, here’s a video of an in-studio session they did for All Our Noise. (http://www.allournoise.com/)

And here is their facebook, if you’d like to look at pictures or follow links to their various holdings on the internet! (http://www.facebook.com/wildmoccasins?sk=info)