Archive for July, 2010
Saturday, July 31st, 2010
Arcade Fire will brighten the rest of 2010
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs…Detailed reviews are sprouting up everywhere, so let me simply say I feel this is damn good and that I’m liking it better all the time. It’s easily the most anticipated album of summer and might hold that crown for all of 2010. People really root for these guys. No band has influenced more musicians over the past decade than Arcade Fire. I’ve written about the immense pressure these guys probably felt while writing and recording. The Suburbs might not quite match Funeral or Neon Bible, but it gives Arcade Fire an iconic trio of releases. As they are one of the world’s finest live bands, their tour will be a titanic success. Many of these new songs will sound amazing in concert. When a journalist wrote after a recent gig that the new stuff didn’t sound like the band’s imitators, I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. Three of the first four leaked songs were more straight forward and didn’t feature much of the AF uniqueness we know and love. “We Used to Wait’” was the most inventive, and I found it interesting that song became the UK single while basic rocker “Ready to Start” was selected here in the USA. Had the band become solid but uninspired? The full-length contains more formula-sounding music than I’d wished for, but it’s a relief to know they didn’t fully desert the astonishing instrumentation that makes them special. I wonder if advancing the more formula songs was an effort to mess with us, or if it just happened that way. I’m really liking “We Used to Wait”, “Swamp II”, and “Rococo”.
Best Coast–Crazy For You and Wavves–King of the Beach…Not only are these two of the most buzzed-about new albums, but they feature LA-based artists who share a lo-fi 60′s vibe. Best Coast(BC) leader Bethany Cosentino and Wavves king Nathan Williams are also a romantic pair, and I would have loved to have been in on their early chats about 60′s artists they love. Interesting that Pitchfork gave both albums an 8.4. How’s that for neutrality? BC has a real girl group feel while Wavves has a harder party band sound that also hits on Green Day-type 90′s surf punk. Both albums exude the concept of endless summer, and I’m all for anything new that keeps the 60′s sound fresh and current. Check-out BC tracks “Boyfriend”, “Crazy For You” and “Our Deal”. I recommend Wavves’ “Idiot”, “King of the Beach”, and “Baby Say Goodbye”.
Saturday, July 24th, 2010
Chill Wave artist Washed Out has the pretty song "You and I"
I arrived in Chicago the day after Pitchfork concluded. It seems the biggest buzz was on LCD Soundsystem, Local Natives, Surfer Blood, and Sleigh Bells. I’ve seen the first three and would definitely agree.
People are writing and raving about the latest subgenre Chill Wave and wondering how long it will last. Leading bands include Washed Out, Memory Tapes, and Neon Indian. I’m now hearing Panda Bear all over the place. Chill Wave is very low-key as the title would suggest. In my mind, it’s related to lo-fi and shoegaze, where the indie trend has been leaning away from bright, up-tempo sounds. Most indie-electro has become quieter and darker as well. I usually go for the more upbeat stuff as my regulars know. By nature, laid-back lower-fi music has a tougher chance of crossing over to larger audiences, but that’s usually fine with artists and fans loving the music. As for how long these trends will last, it will be the same as every other style such as garage rock and “new rave”. Most artists won’t be around for more than a few years. Those with the best songs, freshest sounds, and best live shows will usually survive the longest. At that point, the term Chill Wave may be past-tense but long-term artists don’t require categorization anyway.
Sunday, July 18th, 2010
At 35, this is the longest-running conference of its kind.
The Conclave just completed its 35th annual conference. It’s more of a radio programming forum than a music discussion, and the subject matter usually covers all formats in general. Lots of midwest radio peeps attend, along with a number of national-level execs and personalities. Egos are checked at the door and the sense of community is high. Scholarships are awarded to deserving students, and many college students are in attendance.
A few points of interest. The latest ratings research shows that average time spent per listen is a mere ten minutes, which explains why songs are repeated so frequently. Current large market ratings methodology created an increasing fear among programmers regarding potential damage of playing much new music. The good news is that some of that fear seems to be abating, assuming the newer tunes are of high quality and presented correctly. Saturday afternoon was devoted to Kurt Hanson’s RAIN Summit Midwest, which covered internet radio. Of the online-specific music radio outlets, Pandora leads the ratings pack by far. Thanks to the internet, Kurt states that radio in general may be heading towards a golden age the way FM broadened radio’s reach a generation ago. Greatly increased radio streaming availability in cars will make a big difference, and that isn’t too far away. A RAIN panelist said that with it comes to online approaches, “one must either be quick or be dead”. In general, radio revenues are up a bit this year following a terrible 2009 so that’s encouraging.
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Ariel Pink and group are worth keeping an eye on.
Last Friday night began with Harlem at The Echo. I like these guys. Their “Friendly Ghost” was a fave track earlier this year but I’d heard their live shows don’t match their studio output. I’m afraid that was the case for me. They probably wanted to emulate major influences Nirvana in that band’s loud punk early stages, but it was hard to hear anything and the vocals seemed way off. To be fair, they said they were enduring major technical issues, so I might have gotten them on an extremely bad night.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti were playing downstairs at the sold-out Echoplex. This was a hot ticket and the band has a developed a newfound buzz on their current album. Ariel’s response to their growing fame? “If this is your first time seeing us, shame on you!” This band has traditionally been lo-fi, and that was certainly the sound of their set. They’ve got some great musical ideas, and Pink has the potential to become a star over time. The fans were into the show, but I expected a little more excitement in the air. Definitely a band to keep an eye and ear on.
Philadelphia Grand Jury moved to London from Sydney following their blowout Musexpo LA performance in April. They’re heading back to Australia for some major gigs. The band is doing well down under, and their positive vibes appeal to everyone from metalheads to art rockers. They absolutely deliver live and have a number of strong tunes in the arsenal. Last night’s show was at the Silverlake Lounge, which is a funky club without much of a stage. These guys need to be elevated higher so that their energy projects over the crowd. Still, a good time was had by all.
Friday, July 9th, 2010
Always good having the New Porns to play
Here’s the playlist. You can stream the show here.
The Knack – (Havin’ A) Rave-Up (The Go Deep theme song)
Devo – Don’t Shoot (Fave deeper track on one of 2010′s best albums)
The Postelles – White Night (Hooky song from NY band. Album coming soon. )
Kate Nash – Do-Wah-Doo (Kate in more of a retro direction this time around)
Dr. Dog – Stranger (I think this is perfect for mainstream radio)
The Soft Pack – Mexico (Band got a great Coachella reaction)
Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill (They ended Coachella in true style)
The Constellations – Perfect Day (Leader Elijah also talks late-night Atlanta inspiration. )
LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change (Tough picking a follow-up on this deep album)
Delphic – Counterpoint (Manchester band strong live and worth catching)
The Blue Van – There Goes My Love (iPad commercial tune is about oral sex)
The Futureheads – The Chaos (Band’s energy totally back on this fine album)
22-20′s - Latest Heartbreak (Band gets back together with awesome guitar sound here.)
Lightspeed Champion – The Big Guns of Highsmith (Test Icicles dude returns with fun track. )
The New Pornogrpahers – Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk (They recently played this on Letterman)
La Roux – Tigerlilly (My fave deeper track, now that Bulletproof is top ten)
The Knack - (Havin’ A) Rave-Up (The Go Deep theme song)
Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
Here are some quick impressions of fave June releases:
The Chemical Brothers–Further…These guys were about as consistent as anyone but fell off last time out. Once again the quality is back, as this full-length is a good listen from beginning to end. There aren’t any truly memorable songs, but it’s fine either in the background or as a primary focus of yours. If I were to recommend tracks, I’d go with “Dissolve” and “Swoon”.
The Constellations–Southern Gothic…They have a unique sound and blur genre lines between rock, blues, rap, pop, etc. Every track has its own feel. They’re very musical and are one of the better live bands out there. The album is written about after-hours Atlanta and as Hotlanta is their home town, it’s a subject they know lots about. The single “Felecia” has been getting strong airplay nationally. Also check out “Setback” and their superior cover of Tom Waits’ “Step Right Up”.
Delphic–Acolyte…Following in the footsteps of various Manchester predecessors, these guys adeptly blend electro and rock. Delphpic’s main goal is to get people dancing and this album does just that. Their sound isn’t terribly original, but they do sound fresh, and their live show indicates that the band is ready for prime time. Cool tracks include “Doubt”, “Halcyon”, “Counterpoint”, and “Submission”.
Devo–Something For Everybody…Possibly their best album overall and one of my 2010 faves so far. They retained their analogue synth sound but added a 2010 production sheen to make them sound very “fresh”. There’s a need for more uptempo indie music, and this fits beautifully. They’ll make many new fans, and the album is a must for old fans. I like it all and mostly recommend “Fresh”, “Don’t Shoot”, “What We Do”, and “Please Baby Please”.
The Futureheads–The Chaos…Speaking of uptempo indie music, the FHeads (as I lovingly call them) have returned to the highly energized sound that originally worked so well for them. They’re getting strong UK attention and some buzz over here with cool tracks like “Heartbeat Song”, “The Chaos”, “Struck Dumb”, and “I Can Do That”.