30 November 2007

Shows I've Seen: Best of 2007

The Fiery Furnaces, 2007's Top 3 performers

10. Badly Drawn Boy, March 14 @ The Loft. He's a very sassy performer, but he played his ass off. He made me want to throw my drawz at him when he sang "Magic in the Air" at the end of his encore.

9. Peter, Bjorn and John, Sept. 12 @ Variety Playhouse. I knew this show was gonna be good when I went to the box office six hours prior to the show and purchased the very last ticket. Weeks before the show I wasn't sure if I wanted to see PBJ or not, but I'm glad I decided to go. Hearing "Up Against the Wall" live is a treat.

8. Blonde Redhead, May 4 @ Variety Playhouse. I've been wanting to see these kids for over two years and it was fantastic. It was kinda weird because they sounded too similar to their studio recordings, but they put on a good'un, nonetheless.

7. Caribou, Oct. 12 @ The Earl. Dan Snaith is a hard-working mother, man. Caribou just has a great all-around sound and I'm happy to have witnessed such beauty live.

6. Jens Lekman, Nov. 16 @ Drunken Unicorn. He didn't perform with his band, but to my amazement, he pulled it off like a pro. I always have ultimate respect for solo artists who still knows how to be entertaining.

5. Deerhunter, March 30 @ Lenny's. The biggest buzz band of the year, who happens to be from my neck o' da woods, threw a release party on this date. It was incredible. They played their asses off, and I was pleased.

4. Modest Mouse/Man Man, May 5 @ The Masquerade Music Park. Modest Mouse=favorite active band, Man Man=favorite live band--what more could I ask for?

3. The Fiery Furnaces, July 7 @ The Earl. When I first saw them in 2005, it was my favorite show of the year. Your life is meaningless if you haven't seen Fiery Furnaces live, because it's an ongoing adrenaline fest. They were even better than the last time, and would've easily been my favorite of this year, but they had some tough competition this year.

2. Animal Collective, Sept. 26 @ Variety Playhouse. They, too, were an adrenaline fest, and seeing them live was a real treat for me. They played a nearly two-hour set without an encore! Straight through that sucka! They rocked my world.

Who could've topped Animal Collective and Fiery Furnaces, you ask?

These guys:

1. Sonic Youth, July 13 @ Pitchfork Music Festival. Sonic Youth was the only band I felt like I needed to see before I retired in this here life, and seeing them for only $15 performing Daydream Nation in its entirety, as well as a handful of great jams off of Rather Ripped (especially with them ending on "Jams Run Free") was more than an "awesome" time. Words are overrated when it comes to my feelings on seeing one of my all-time favorite bands live. God bless you, Kim, Thurston, Lee and Steve.

Just to reiterate: Stereolab rules.

They are rhythm masters, for sure. The ultimate rulers of musicianship. Should be in every diehard music lover's "favorite band" category. They can make the simplest sound seem complex, and the most complex sound simple.

Whenever I listen to any album of their's, I wonder how the members were so in sync with one another to be able to create such meticulously beautiful music for such a long period of time.

Pretty much an unsolved mystery right there.

Stereolab - Blue Milk

I don't miss: The resurgence of the "The" bands.

The Fader recently posted a short film about The Strokes by Colin Lane in 2001. It only reminded me of how much I couldn't stomach The Strokes or the other "The" bands, such as The Hives (pictured above), The Vines, The Lameasses and The Douchebags.

The summer after my senior year in high school, I was watching Conan O'Brien and The Hives was the musical guest. I was thinking, "Who the hell is this band with a Mick Jagger wannabe?" I was into it very briefly, including during my freshman year in college when the rest of the "The" bands came around. I will not lie: The Hives are definitely one of the most photogenic and fashionable bands. I'm already wishing I had one of those sleek, silver jackets right now.

But The Strokes--I never liked 'em, even during my tryin' times. I guess it's because I hated how every music publication was on their nutsacks like they were the next "Kings of Rock" (as Rolling Stone once claimed).

The White Stripes was the only oasis out of the "The" genre for music lovers, though, for they were the, for lack of a better word, shit. But I'm over 'em, too.

The Strokes short film is not worth looking through 18 minutes. It's black and white (which is always OK by me), but there's absolutely no sound. Nada. Not even music. What's the fucking point?

No, that video did not open up a can of anger.

29 November 2007

I miss: Neko Case

Listening to Neko Case albums evokes a certain memorable time period for me, specifically May 2006-December 2006.

I first got into, if you hadn't guessed it already, in May 2006 when my friend made me a data disc and included two of her albums, Furnace Room Lullaby and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins was still popular at the time, and I was just not feeling that shite. But something about Neko Case stood out--maybe it was her voice, or maybe it was the fact that I heard rumors about her "princess-like" stage presence at shows. So of course that piques my interest, because I'm all for assholes for art's sake.

I got a great feel for Confessor just by the first track, "Margaret vs. Pauline;" then later that month I was standing front row at the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Wash. Unfortunately, a hailstorm decides to interrupt her set as she begins the third song, "Star Witness." She didn't give a damn and kept the show going. As soon as it ends, however, she grabbed the mic and said, "I'm sorry, they told me I can't finish the show." Bummer.

And the great thing I discovered about Neko Case is the fact that her voice live sounds EXACTLY like it does in studio recordings, which is an awesome thing because it's so strong, yet delicately beautiful. She's got some range, now.

I got even more into her when I was an intern at Paste, and I didn't realize how much I loved her until I gave a five-minute argument on how Confessor should've been in the Top 5 of their "Best of" list, and one of the editors said he wasn't impressed and he was more of a Jenny Lewis fan. I then spat in his face and called him Un-American and stormed out of the editorial meeting after yelling, "I can no longer work in a place that condones Communism." Or something.

Anyway, since that unfortunate hailstorm event, I have not recuperated. I haven't seen her. I just haven't been able to fill that void she left me.

Neko Case, please come back to me.

28 November 2007

Sarah Silverman is the new...

This guy.

Luckily, there aren't anymore lewd conduct laws where you violate them by saying "cunt," "tits and ass" and "fuck."

I shall elaborate on the brilliance of Lenny Bruce in another entry, but I will say he has paved the way for so many comedians, and I think it shines mostly through Sarah Silverman. Maybe she's possessed by his ghost. Who knows. Point is, she's f'in amazing and I just hope she doesn't get the treatment that Dave Chappelle dealt with when people realized what he was doing was too great. As we've learned in the comedy world, once you're deemed great, you're Public Enemy No. 1 (or a close 2nd or 3rd or...yeah, you get my point).

Exhibit A of the world's hateration:

The View never fails when they bring on a female guest, especially if their "edgy." Instead of applauding Silverman for her balls (though she got some of that in a sideways manner from Joy Behar, who herself is a B or C comedian), Barbra Walters, Rosie and Elisabeth, all imbeciles, mind you, they kept asking how long would it be until the world got enough of her antics. Silverman handled it well.

Then there's Exhibit B:

Silverman points out that the interviewer is treating her like a show monkey after he asks her to re-tell that joke that got her in trouble on Conan O'Brien in 2001. He then says, "Yes, now will you tap?"

But despite it all, she continues to do her. Keep that up, girlfriend.

27 November 2007

In Retrospect: The Coachmen, 1979

I stumbled across some early recordings of Thurston Moore back when he was in The Coachmen circa 1979, and I gotta say, my life got a little more complete.

Silver Jews' lead singer David Berman must have been listening to The Coachmen's Failure to Thrive when he created the band, because his vocals are a striking resemblance to Coachmen's lead vocalist JD King's. Kinda like how I felt when I was listening to Marc Bolan's early stuff with Tyrannosaurus Rex and how Devendra Banhart pretty much ripped Bolan's vocal chords from his throat. It's crazy.

You can enjoy the entire Failure to Thrive right here:
Thurston's Song
Girls Are Short
Household Word
Radical Lifestyle
Stay In My Room

Thanks, 24 Hour Party Pooper for these awesome mp3s.

Uncertainty in the air: Abe Vigoda

So the way my brain works when it comes to music recommendations from others: they tell me, I take heed to their recommendations, then I forget because I'm catching up with other shit I've been meaning to get into, and then a few months or years later, I remember the initial conversation dealing with the aforementioned recommendations.

This go-round, it's about "tropical punk" rockers Abe Vigoda, straight outta L.A. I asked my roomie back in July if he went to the Fiery Furnaces show, and he said he went to see Abe Vigoda instead, and I figured, if he's opting to skip out on one of the most electrifying live acts ever to see Abe Vigoda, then they must be good shit.

But my skeptical nature had me asking why the hell people added yet another genre (tropical punk--really?). At first, I immediately thought The Futureheads. Yipes.

Then I listen to some tracks, and although I'm still uncertain if I would own an Abe Vigoda's album(s), I'm liking some of the tracks I've heard.

You can enjoy the whole Hype Machine page here (big fan of "Secret City"), and their Myspace page here.

26 November 2007

Color me impressed: Melt-Banana

I closed out my holiday weekend by catching these Japanese noise rockers in Nashville. Despite the young punks in the front moshing like it was still 1995, that show was pretty badass. I was amazed. They get an award for Best Stage Presence. They did something that most bands do not do: cover a song I originally despised until I hear their version, in which makes me do a 180.

Here's their cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass"

23 November 2007

I'm Not There: Do I really want to see this?

The premise is beyond interesting, especially having six of Hollywood's most versatile actors (seriously, casting Cate Blanchett as one of the Bob Dylan personae is pretty brilliant) to portray Bob Dylan.

Nevertheless, and I know this is gonna force me into a Joan of Arc-esque treatment, but Bob Dylan does nothing for me--his persona, his music, and, honestly, his lyrics really aren't that profound to me.

"Dast you! How can you even have a music blog when you say such blasphemous things about America's greatest poet/radical/poet/radical/poet/radical? How can you even consider yourself as a lover of music?"

I've heard such things, and frankly, there've been better arguments. I sit and listen to Dylan worshippers and I continue to listen until they're done, and after two hours of persuasion attempts, I still don't see it. I've tried, but, ahhhh...over it.

They can't always be winners.

21 November 2007

Video of the Year Candidate: Talib Kweli

Kweli's Eardrum is a sleeper album, just like I said previously about Kevin Drew's album.

Well, don't do it, kids. Kweli's last album may not have been about shit, but he came back full force with this'n. I'm sorry, but when you team up with Pete Rock, Mr. Polka Dot himself Kwame, hot, new hip-hop sensation Sa-Ra, Kanye West (he actually wowed me with his productions on this album), and even will.i.a.m., his productions including the single "Hot Thing."

It's ridiculous. You got it, brother.

I am thankful for you, Black Mountain.

So the new release date to eyeball is Jan. 21, 2008. Remember when Black Mountain debuted with a self-titled album in 2004? It's safe to say that its upcoming album on said release date will be worth waiting three years to hear from 'em again.

Reason behind me babbling like a boob:
Black Mountain - Tyrants

20 November 2007

Pitchfork rides Deerhunter like crazy.

The year 2007 was definitely the year for Deerhunter. I was riding their jocks since Summer 2006, and then some earlier this year.

But it got really dull once the hype went into excessive mode. It seemed like Pitchfork had a daily Deerhunter watch as they posted just about everything from the band's blog.

Then in August, guitarist Colin Mee decided to quit the band due to the ridiculous hype, saying the kids only did one album--certainly not enough to get all the hooplah.

Pretty exhausting for Deerhunter, I imagine. So exhausting, that they decided to go on hiatus.

And, of course, Pitchfork reacts as if they found out that electronic dance music has retired as a genre.

Ease up, Pitchfork. Sheesh.

Writer's strike is pretty serious, folks.

Being a writer myself, I'm all for the writer's strike. It's definitely deserved. I just hate that I'm so fucking enthralled with Ugly Betty that I'll actually be hurt when the lights go out too soon.

But can't say I don't feel their pain. I know I'm not the only one when I say that I didn't even think about writer's not receiving revenue for DVD and iTunes sales. Now that I think about it, that's pretty messed up for the TV industry to not even consider that shit. Don't they know that people don't even bother watching shows during its actual air time, that they just would rather wait to engorge in watching commercial- and interruption-free episodes of their favorite shows?

If anything, I hope the strike gets the writers what they want--and deserve.

More on the strike:
SHIFT: The technology driving the Hollywood writer's strike

Officially Categorized: Liars

Photo courtesy of Joe Dilworth

No need for words.

Liars own my soul. Whatever you do, I'll be right there waiting for you.*

*If I'm quoting Richard Marx, then it must be serious.

19 November 2007

Films I'm Into: Control

Oh, biopics. How I can loathe you so. If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all, I always say.

So it wouldn't be a total shocker if I went into the theater carrying that mentality to see Anton Corbijn's Control, chronicling the life and demise of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis.

I must say, I was pretty accurate about the biopic standpoint; however, this movie quickly established Corbijn as a visual director (which shouldn't be a surprise because he started out as a photographer). What could have been a pretentious film about a cult favorite indie post-punk band from Manchester was actually a visually well-done and organic film. While watching the film, you can easily grasp that Corbijn was serious about his subject matter.

The casting of Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis was more than interesting, but it showed that she has a nice, sound range of acting abilities (sidebar: have you noticed that female actors of foreign countries have overcome typecasting with ease, while as American female actors deal with that shit non-stop?).

I saw the movie a week ago and I'm still trying to register if I liked Sam Riley as Ian Curtis. To be honest, he may have been the weakest link. I hate saying that, especially when the kid has done something so bold by starring as one of rock's tortured souls ever, not to mention trying to hone Curtis' distinctive baritone voice.

Nevertheless, I was more impressed with Sean Harris' portrayal of Ian Curtis in Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People. Then again, it's the battle of accuracy: was Ian Curtis more so compassionate and sensitive like Riley in Control or just flat-out intense like Harris in 24 Hour Party People? I suppose the former since it's based off Deborah's memoir. If anything, I definitely admire Riley's determination.

With that being said, I'm more than elated to see that, albeit nearly 30 years later, Joy Division is gaining more recognition through Control and a self-titled documentary that was released last year (though it'd be nice to know when the hell it's gonna release in the States). And the Unknown Pleasures/Closer/Still reissue box set completes the formula.

When Comedians Ruled the World: Arsenio Hall

Arsenio at the 1989 Emmy Awards. Photo by Alan Light.

A recent dream and a newfound interest in doing the "Woo Woo Woo" fist pump in public places got me wondering what the hell happened to Arsenio Hall.

After seeing Eddie Murphy's successful attempts at a comeback (Oscar nomination, hello!), it's really depressing to see Arsenio's best comeback so far has been his short-lived stint on the return of Star Search four years ago and some appearances on VH1's "I Love The 90s" series.

Nevertheless, he sure is missed. No matter how much I love Conan O'Brien, The Arsenio Hall Show will always be my favorite talk show.

Arsenio interview Jason Voorhees

Aresnio interviews Madonna

Arsenio interviews Tupac (post-controversial interview with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan)

Arsenio and BFF Eddie Murphy, pt. 1-4:

You have a fan in me, Arsenio.

This one's for you, Kevin Drew.

Don't sleep on this warped-minded songwriter. Kevin Drew's album is definitely an underdog of this year, and I'll admit, I did a little dozing myself. Maybe it's because I knew that it would pretty much be Broken Social Scene without the...dare I say?..."pizazz."

Not to say Spirit If... isn't full of said pizazz, but it's moreso intimate, which is allright with me.

I actually have fond memories of Kevin Drew. The last time I saw BSS was October 2006, but it was October 2005 that somewhat placed itself in the "Life-Altering Moment" category. I was in Chicago with one of my best friends and I was kinda upset with her over something that isn't even important anymore, and we were headed to Metro to see them play later that night. So in short, it was already a weird feeling of that night.

Feist opens for 'em, and she killed it. Then they come out, do their little instrumental ditty, then pause, and alluvasudden, Drew does the beginning riff of "KC Accidental," and I accidentally lose my fucking cool because that song is so ridiculous to me. Anyway, so the show's going well, then they come out for an encore for an "indie rock dance party." I loved the sound of that because I love dancing. So they go into "Hotel," and needless to say, I got my groove on (mind you, I was dead smack in the middle, in the front row). They end the song, and Drew goes, "OK OK OK, before we go into the next song, I want to point someone out in the audience." Then he looked me square in the eyes and said, "You! Raise your hand!" And I raised it, and he said, "You win the dance contest. I wish I had something to give you, but I don't."

"Gimme your lovin'!" I yelp.

"What's that?" he asked with a chuckle.

"Gimme your sweet lovin'!"

"OK," he said. And then he jumped off the stage, came over and gave me this big, bear hug. Then he jumped back onstage and said, "Thank you for dancing like an audience member should dance."

And then I forgot about everything that made me pissed at my dear friend; forgot about how I shouldn't have been in Chicago to begin with because I had two essays due that following Monday in school; and pretty much forgot about all stresses. I don't know, I guess I felt that way because Broken Social Scene are full of hard-working sombitches, and they know they aren't the most popular band because of the things they say and how "Fuck You" their mentality is, yet they get off of simple pleasures like seeing an audience member dance to their songs. Some deep shit there (though is it still considered "deep" if the author said it's deep? Yes.).

The Broken Social Scene phenomenon is beyond amazing to me. I've said before that it was as if there were a bunch of brilliant kids growing up in Canada, hanging out all the time, and they all realize they had a lot in common and decided to start a mega group that would later break off into several just-as talented groups and solo artists.

In short, Kevin Drew's new album is just as solid as a BSS album. Is that even a shocker?

Kevin Drew - Aging Faces / Losing Places

18 November 2007

Covers: Sonic Youth vs. The Stooges

Here's an early Sonic Youth track where they jam around for about two and a half minutes before they ease into The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog." There's no way this song can be covered wrong, especially if you're SY (or unless you're Ryan Adams).

Listen and learn:
Sonic Youth - Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog

Jens Lekman, Nov. 16

Jens Lekman performing Paul Simon's "Call Me Al" in Dallas at Granada Theater

New blog, new attitude (not really). So what better way to inaugurate this special occasion than talking about Jens Lekman's entertainment brilliance?

Granted this video is of him performing in Dallas on Nov. 13, I was privileged to make my way over to The Drunken Unicorn three nights later. And lemme tell ya--despite its uncomfortable atmosphere that any small, crowded venue brings you, it was all worth it. I couldn't move the entire night, and was slightly disappointed that he didn't bring his band, but he pulled that shit off, especially when he did crowd favorite "A Sweet Summer's Night in Hammer Hill."

He's a comedian who happens to be an amazing musician. Ever listen to the lyrics? You should. He's a great storyteller.

Exhibit A:
Jens Lekman - A Postcard To Nina