March 03, 2009
BIG WEEEK! enjoy...
YEAH YEAH YEAHS – Zero – It’s Blitz (forthcoming)
I gushed enough about this at the meeting. It’s a far departure from where they started with Fever to Tell but change is good right? Lacking the shrill guitar punch that propelled their debut to critical acclaim, Zero and all of It’s Blitz! is straightforward Hollywood pop. It’s Brittney Spears for rock geeks, but old Brittney, not chewed up, showing her genitals Brittney. A great hook and some awesome echo yelps from Karen O will make this the song to remix for the spring.
MIRAH – The Forest – (A)Spera
Mirah’s follow up to her low-fi get-rid-of-old-songs-and-b-sides-record That Old Time Feeling is a genius return to her always desparately beautiful pop songs. The Forest has the coolest, and I mean coolest guitar/horn line driving the song. It’s a brooding trip through a dark forest following an army of grim faces. One word…epic
COCONUT RECORDS – Any Fun – Davy
Ok, so we switched out the walk in the park song. Jason Schwartzman’s solo music project’s second effort is so much stronger than his first attempt about 1 year ago. Released on his own label, Davy features much stronger songwriting, filling in the gaps previously left open. “Any Fun” features some diverse instrumentation (listen for the french horn report) and a synth hook like The Boy Least Likely To does best.
BEN KWELLER – Sawdust Man – Changing Horses
Ben’s new effort is distinctly more country influenced. He’s on tour with the Watson Twins supporting this new record from Western Vinyl. “Sawdust Man” is an ambling cowboy ballad. Some Billy Joel-ish piano work provides the instrumental base with steel stringed accompaniment and a rockin honky tonk solo.
NICO VEGA – Burn Burn – Self Titled
Burn Burn comes in heavy with a power guitar line, frenitically building to a climax as the chorus bursts into empty space like a Tokyo Police Club song. They balance the heavy feeling extremely well with the natural timbre of their singer Aja’s voice and a danceable beat that joyfully stings the back beat in the chorus.
THE LAUREATES – Her Fiction – There Are No More Gentlemen
These guys are a new band from Chicago releasing their first LP. “Her Fiction” is the first track and it kicks off the album right. The killer guitar hook right off the bat will stick with you for hours. Sounding something like a collaboration between Ted Leo and Robert Pollard where Ted Leo is chasing Pollard around with his speedy guitar lines.
BECK – Leopard-Skin Pill-box Hat – War Child Presents Heroes
Yeah, its from a compilation. Another one from the War Child set, this is Beck covering Bob Dylan. Imagine if everything that was originally recorded for the song was fuzzy, synthesized and screamin’. Beck adds his little electronic touches to the Dylan classic building a soundscape appropriate for that scene in the movie when the cool guy/hot girl gets out of the car and walks in the club…wearing a leopard skin pillbox hat of course. Beck takes the four minute tune down to a little of two and a half.
THE NATIONAL – So Far Around the Bend – Dark Was the Night
Our third song added from this compilation. This is an uncharacteristically poppy effort from the Brooklyn group who curated the compilation. It is arranged by neo-classical composer Nico Mulhy. If it wasn’t the National, I might be as bold to call the chorus bubbly. As is, there are some pretty flute and keyboard scales in the bridge and chorus that give it a much lighter feel than most National songs.
February 24, 2009
Here's a little info about each of the songs in new music this week.
Dawes - When My Time Comes - Self Titled
These guys opened up for Delta Spirit on Wednesday with a killer live show. I'd been listening to their myspace all week getting excited but I wasn't near prepared for the all out assault of 3 part harmony reminiscent of CSNY and Creedence Clearwater Revival. This one features a rolling beat a la The Shins "This Celebate Life" that leads to a grandiose hallelujah style chorus. Dude's got a great voice.
Metric - Help, I'm Alive - Single
First release of their new album Fantasies coming out in April. Emily Haines comes in with a heavy echo in this slow builder. Its deceptive, it builds without being obvious so that at the end you want to listen again to figure out how they got there. The etheral echo gives way to an all out 90's rock chorus, like Sixpence None the Richer singing a third eye blind song. All in all, a great mix of hooks that's a super solid first single.
The Dirty Projectors & David Byrne - Nnotty Pine - Dark Was the Night (compilation)
The second song we're playing from this awesome 2 CD compilation from 4AD. The song is actually performed only by The Dirty Projectors with the lyrics written by David Byrne. Clocking in under 2:30, it's a quick pop song with harshly beautiful vocals.
Neck Case - The Tornado Loves You - Middle Cyclone
Neko's new album Middle Cyclone drops on March 3rd via Anti-. This is the first track on the album kicking it off with a bubbly, galloping beat painting a landscape of the old west filled with tumbleweeds and dust devils. It has a nice warm feel like Neko loves you as well as the Tornado.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Seena Was a Pink Rocker - War Child Presents Heroes (compilation)
Another super great compilation out now is a benefit for children affected by war. The artists who originally recorded the songs on the CD handpicked a current artist to record a new cover version special for this project. Some other pairings include Beck covering Dylan, The Hold Steady covering Springsteen, TV on the Radio doing Bowie and Hot Chip covering Joy Division. This is a perfect choice in my opinion. Karen O takes it on with "f%*& the rules" attitude straight out of the 80's.
Youth Group - All This Will Pass - The Night is Ours
They had a big buzz a couple years ago following a support spot for Death Cab For Cutie and a headlining tour of their own. This new album features the same type of vocals that separated Youth Group from the pack. It sounds big and small at the same time, breathy emotional and panoramic.
February 20, 2009
We at ICB Cannot thank Delta Spirit enough for their wonderful in-studio this Thursday. Singer Matt Vasquez and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich spiced up our weekday afternoon with a little bit more flannel and a lot more soul than otherwise would have been. Many thanks, guys. Pictures from the in-studio can be seen here
The real treat though was later that night at Castaways, when the whole band (plus some) took to the stage to regale Ithaca with some of the best, most soulful, Americana/rock fusion that's been seen in recent years.
Seeing as the band arrived in our fair city with a bit of a collective cold, I was completely floored by the almost efortless energy and earnestness that Vasquez and the band poured into their set from start to finish. Vasquez, a swoon-worthy lead singer if there ever was one, has that rare ability to make any and every member of the audience feel as if he's singing every song to them personally. Numbers such as "People Come On" and "Trashcan" (delightfully, played using an actual trashcan) saw the whole audience in a trance of soul and movement, awed by Vasquez's impassioned vocals the galloping drums of Brandon Davis. The wooden floor of castaways must have taken a beating that night, because Delta Spirit live is the kind of thing where the only appropriate response is to grab a friend, grab a drink, and get dancin' (swaying works too, for slower songs like "House Built For Two")
For me though the undeniable highlight of the night was the closer, "People Turn Around", a sing-along in the vein of 60's protest songs that's as ardent and sincere as anthing Creedence or Neil Young ever wrote. As the last notes faded and the band left the stage, I think they left everyone there with just a little more soul than when they'd arrived at Castaways that night.
February 11, 2009
It was a fantastical Friday night with new school Canadian rockers Stars at the State Theater. They bedecked the stage with a gigantic box of flowers and tossed out over 6 dozen roses to the clamoring crowd creating some sort of twisted, darkly beautiful garden. Kicking off their set with “The Night Starts Here” off of last years In Our Bedroom After the War, an apt opener for obvious reasons, Stars brought unguarded enthusiasm right off the bat. It was a wonderfully successful night for the first three way co-presentation between Cornell, IC and DSP.
Kevin Devine opened the show as a solo act. Bringing just an acoustic guitar, he played a solid set of jaunty folk songs augmented by his nimble voice. He confessed to me after his set that any song that sounded as if it made sense with a band was in fact usually played with a band. He didn’t have the time to put a band together for the show but he promised that come spring, he’d be releasing a new album and heading out for a national tour with a band. All the same, Kevin played a great set all by his lonesome and definitely won a few new fans in the process.
Stars jumped on stage just a little after 9 looking like straight up rockstars. The songs were impeccable as lead singer Torquil Campbell pranced across the stage with the bravado of a marching band waving his trumpet in the air. After “The Night Starts Here” they went straight into “Take Me to the Riot”, the lead single from Bedroom. With a huge, barnstorming chorus of “Take me, take me to the riot” the crowd was jumping out of their skin just two songs in. They kept it moving straight through the rest of the night. Powering through more highlights from Bedroom including “The Ghost of Geneva Heights” and “Bitches in Tokyo” in addition to songs from most of their older releases, “Ageless Beauty” was one of my favorites.
At the end of the night the crowd of over 1000 walked away awed and pleased. Fingers crossed for a new album from those guys this year and another tour coming by soon!
February 03, 2009
The Hold Steady know how to keep busy. After a big tour this fall with the Drive By Truckers they're off on another one this spring supported by The War on Drugs (it's making a stop in Albany and I have tickets!). They're also strongly rumored to be playing Rachel Ray's second attempt at a musical bash this SXSW.
Rachel Ray, cooking guru, talk show host, etc., is continuing her bid at indie fame with another SXSW showcase this year. Following up last year’s bash which featured Holy Fuck, The Ravonettes and others, Ray is ready to dip into the middle of the indie salsa…
Her party jumped a few steps in the EVOOlutionary chain this year as sources have apparently confirmed that The Hold Steady will be featured at her showcase on March 21st at a to be named venue in Austin. Also rumored are The Airborne Toxic Event. I can raise a toast to that. St. Rachel Ray, she might be our only decent cook.
Also announced today is the forthcoming documentary/live album from the dudes. Previously the only official live material available was the acoustic Live at Fingerprints EP. Come April 7th Vanguard will release A Positive Rage containing both a 53 minute documentary and a live show recorded at the Metro in Chicago on Halloween in 2007.
I'm drooling. I bet there are some epic Criag Finn quotes in those 53 minutes that I'll be repeating when I'm trying to be funny. Seriously, it's like someone recorded Jesus reading the bible... but better.
Also! I have to mention that they recently finished a killer killer cover of Springsteen's Atlantic City for a charity comp. These guys can't do any wrong.