Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bonnaroo - Day 4

Ah, the last day of the greatest weekend ever.

I managed to find the golden time to get to Centeroo to avoid missing shows as well as trying to pass two hours (around 10:30/11:00, if you're ever planning to go). I started the day at This Tent to see Smith Westerns. A good band with good music, but they still need to work on their stage presence. I will give them a pass though, since they're barely out of their teens.

Seriously, how old are you 12?

I then headed over to The Other Tent (gotta love these venue names) for Nicole Atkins. While I've listened to her music for a couple of years now, I never got deeply into it, but she was incredible live. Much more riveting in person than recorded. The highlight was the audience participation anthem "Brooklyn's on Fire!" I love sing-alongs!

I love your music now!

Next, at the same stage , was Jose Gonzalez's band Junip. Not a terribly exciting perfomance, but their music is pretty low-key. They could have livened it up a bit by playing my favorite song of theirs, "Always", but alas, it did not happen. Sigh.

I still love you, though!

After Junip, I meandered over to Which Stage for Iron & Wine, another act with a suspiciously sparse audience...Iron & Wine had been a solo effort of Sam Beam for nearly a decade and three studio albums, but had a full band for his latest effort, Kiss Each Other Clean. I was pleasantly surprised that he kept his full band on stage with him even when performing songs he had done as a solo artist. It kept the set from being too boring, but he could have used them more to their full potential.

BEARD...soft rock...folk?

I left a little early to head back to The Other Tent to try and get close to the next act I wanted to see. I got over their to catch the tail-end of Robyn's birthday performance (can't say that I'm really that into her, but I am trying). After squeezing through the hoards of people leaving Robyn's show along with the hoards of people entering for the next show, I got about twenty feet (and seemingly 1000 people) away from the stage.

I got squeezed in pretty tight behind a girl who didn't realize that, with long hair, you can't just flip it every other second in that kind of crowd. That somewhat- mild annoyance was worth it, though, for...Beirut! Zach Condon and his band were probably among the most technically proficient musicians of the entire festival; their songs and the set were amazing. And, good for me, there was trombone!

I should start playing again so I can join an indie band.

That was the last show that I really wanted to see of the festival, but the evening was still young, so I wandered around to some of the other shows. I spent about five minutes at The Strokes (despite going on ten years as a fan, I have very little desire to see them live for some reason).

After, I headed to That Tent to enjoy the beauty that is Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys some more. He was playing the Superjam set with Dr. John and several musicians from the festival, including My Morning Jacket's drummer! I guess Dan will only play with drummers named Patrick.

After that show, I headed back to camp and packed my car to the sounds of Widespread Panic in the background.

The weekend was over, but it was great. Saw some of my favorite bands, all of them for the first time and made some new friends. I will be back next year!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 06/28/2011

Looks like it's compilation week!

Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

This British artist started his career with "folktronica" and has moved towards lush orchestral pop, which he is more known for. With this album, he's making a move towards a more mainstream sound, hopefully without forgetting where he comes from.
"The City"

Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear
Culture of Fear
I'll admit to being completely one of those people who got the Garden State soundtrack and loved it (not ashamed). Thievery Corporation's "Lebanese Blonde" was included on the soundtrack and was one of my favorite tracks. It was ambient, trance-y, trip hop tinged with Brazilian samba sounds. I haven't stayed as upon this artist since that soundtrack, so I hope they've continued that great mix of sounds.
"Culture of Fear"

Various - Rave On, Buddy Holly
Rave On, Buddy Holly
To celebrate the upcoming 75 years since his birth, Concord Records is putting out this compilation of some of his most memorable songs. It includes some exciting artists like Lou Reed, Karen Elson, She & Him and The Black Keys! It's streaming at NPR and really is a great tribute to an artist we lost too soon (I realize I wasn't yet alive when he passed).
"Dearest" by The Black Keys

Various - Red Hot + Rio 2
RED HOT encarte
Another great compilation, this one to raise awareness and money for HIV/AIDs research. This tropicalia album includes a few artists already known for that style, such as Bebel Gilberto and Rodrigo Amarante (of Little Joy); as well as many known for other styles, Beirut, Aloe Blacc and of Montreal. It brings together a great mix of artists and a great style of music, all for a good cause!
"O Leãozinho" by Beirut

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bonnaroo - Day 3

Day 3, I took the lesson learned the day before to heart and headed out to Centeroo around 9:30 in the morning. Of course, then, there was no line and I got into the area quickly. Shows don't really start until around noon, so I spent the time walking around a little bit and came across a nice little one-man show.

Keep doing your thing.

I watched him for a few moments (he wasn't particularly good, just amusing), then headed over to the Cinema Tent which, thankfully, is open 24 hours a day and air-conditioned! There, I caught, for the first time in my life...Footloose. It may officially be one of my favorite movies now!

After the movie, I explored some more of the non-music related features of Bonnaroo and caught a show of Stuffed and Unstrung an "alternative Henson" puppet show. It was like a dirty "Whose Line is it Anyway?" with puppets! It was amazing, definitely something all of you should check out if you ever have a chance.

You don't even want to know what they're doing to that cow.

I contemplated getting back in line to catch the next show, Donald Glover, but thought it best to head over to What Stage to make sure I was prepared for a show I wanted to catch later that evening. You see, at the main stages, Bonnaroo set up pit areas for those fans who want to get up close to their favorite acts. The catch is, you have to get in line and access is first-come, first-served.

Once I got near the stage, I noticed that some people were already lined up for, I assumed, some of the shows that would be going on that evening. I decided it may be best to get in line soon for my show. I grabbed some food, then got in line.

Once there, I had no choice but to try and enjoy the acts at the stage before mine. I caught the tail-end of Dennis Coffey, a well-established guitarist I had never before heard of. Next on was Black Uhuru, an unspectacular reggae group (though, to be fair, it's far from my favorite genre) I had also never heard of. Finally, Wiz Khalifa was on. While I had heard of him, I had never heard any of his songs (nor do I wish to ever again). I spent most of the time chatting with my line neighbors, two students from Louisiana and a cute young man from Atlanta (who, alas, I may never see again...sniffle).

Finally, it was time to get up for the act I really came to see. We started to move into the entrance to pit area, fighting off some people who swore up and down that they had been sitting with us the entire time (they hadn't). After about another thirty minutes (most of us had been there six hours or more already), we were able to move into the pit. There, I found myself front and (nearly) center for one of my favorite bands...The Black Keys!

I can't breathe!

The band was introduced by Aziz Ansari, who first introduced them as The Black Eyed Peas, which elicited a cacophony of boos from the audience. He then "found out" that they had died in a horrible plane accident (cheers) and The Black Keys were the last minute replacement. Fine by us!


The band came out and got right to playing. They played a mix of songs from all of their albums, reserving those from the latest, Brothers, for the middle when they brought out a bassist and keyboardist that helped to round out their sound onstage. The duo is not big on gimmicks, only using a disco ball for a few songs and a light up "The Black Keys" sign towards the end to decorate their stage. Their charisma is enough to keep the crowd going.

My mom says hi from Akron!

I don't know what it is with drummers named Patrick, but along with Hallahan from My Morning Jacket, The Black Key's Carney is among the most entertaining drummers to watch.

I love you!

An amazing show and completely worth missing the better part of a day of shows to be front and center for!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This is the type of wedding I would want

So, supermodel Kate Moss is set to marry Jamie Hince of The Kills in about a week. Sure, just another celebrity wedding, why should anyone really care about it? Well, the event is being dubbed "Mosstock" and word on the street is that the wedding will include a three-day music festival.

It's still just a rumor, but Snoop Dogg, Beth Ditto (of The Gossip) and The Rolling Stones are reportedly among those set to perform.

If the rumor is true, I'm already finding this wedding a million times more interesting than that damned royal wedding I ended up having to block from my browser. If only the rest of us had this power.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bonnaroo - Day 2

Day 1 at Bonnaroo was incredible, but things really started rolling on the second day of the festival. However, to start off the day, I learned two of the biggest lessons of Bonnaroo. The first is that you must make trade-offs. Sharon van Etten and Jessica Lea Mayfield were performing at the exact same time! But I had to make a choice, and I chose Sharon. However, the second big lesson of the day pre-empted any need for a choice: head to Centeroo early! My neighbors and I left the campsite around 11:30 and ended up in line for Centeroo for nearly two hours and I missed both artists.

Determined not to let missing both of these great artists get me down, I used the time before my next show started to explore the booths around Centeroo a bit more. I found an amazing concert poster vendor and some very interesting apparel/accessory vendors. I didn't buy anything, though, just made mental shopping lists.

Then it was time for Matt & Kim at This Tent. Despite having nothing to do directly before the show, I ended up fairly far to the back and didn't get to appreciate the full glory of their hyper-happy style. The set was still amazing, they were probably some of the better performers of the entire festival, especially among the relatively newer artists. At one point Kim, the drummer, gave a shout-out to two sets of bare chests in the audience (there were a lot of those at the festival in general).

They're so...happy!

As much as I was enjoying Matt & Kim, I needed to head over to Cafe Where to catch my friend's band, Walk the Moon, so I left early. I got myself a good seat for the show and waited for it to begin. Cafe Where is directly across from (and within earshot) of What Stage, so I got treated to the end of Grace Potter & The Nocturnal's set. Walk the Moon started almost as soon as Grace and her band were done. I was amazed, being out of Ohio and Cincinnati, how many people present knew and sang along to every song. This band is going places, and I can say "I knew them when..."

OMG, I know that guy!

As soon as Walk the Moon were finished, What Stage fired up again, with The Decemberists starting their set. I moved in closer and got a comfortable seat on the lawn. The crowd was surprisingly sparse considering the act, but it's nicer not to be nose-deep in some guy's back hair for a few shows. I surprised myself with how well I knew their newer songs, despite not having listened to The King is Dead all that much. Note to self: listen to that album more.

Beard rock!

Once again, however, I had to cut out early, this time for Florence + The Machine (remember, people, trade-offs!) I was pretty far away from the stage again. It's a good thing she has bright red hair, so she was easy to spot when she came out. This is one of those few artists where nothing is lost in live performance; it was an incredible set. But, things at Bonnaroo being what they are, I once again cut out early and headed back to What Stage for My Morning Jacket.


I've heard a lot about how much better MMJ is live than on recordings and, since I had already fallen in love with their latest album Circuital and knew I'd have to experience their live show. It was incredible. The band looks, and sounds, epic. Two of the members, leader Jim James and drummer Patrick Hallahan, look more like mountain men than performers and Jim topped his look off with huge furry white boots. The highlight of the show was "Holding Onto Black Metal." The song has somewhat of a false end on the record, but it came out even moreso live, as if the band was saying, "Guess what y'all, this song ain't over...glowsticks!" Seriously, glowsticks just shot out of everywhere in the crowd when the song restarted. Still giving me shivers.

Beard RAGE!

I stayed at What Stage for the next act as well, and even ventured closer knowing it would be big...Arcade Fire. This band had perhaps the best visuals of the entire festival (at least that I saw) including a movie-style marquee, a strange video of three swimmers floating and screaming, and portions of the Spike Jonze-directed video for "We Used to Wait." Before the show started, it rained glitter from the sky. I kid you not; paragliders dropped iridescent foil paper attached to I don't know what that slowly fell back to the ground. It was spectacular. The show was amazing, too. The band proved that they deserved their Grammy win.

Breath, officially gone.

Half-way through, I couldn't stand any longer, and retreated a bit further from the stage just so I could sit. I had planned to catch Lil' Wayne (mostly to get pictures for a coworker's husband) and Ratatat later that night, but could think of little more than sleep. So, that's exactly what I did, headed back to my tent and crashed.

An amazing day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 06/21/2011

This was another slow week (for me, at least), but still another great couple of releases!

Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Bon Iver
It took me a pretty good while to get into Bon Iver. I saw him (real name: Justin Vernon) at Pitchfork three years ago and cut out early to watch something else. I struggled through the first few listens of the debut, For Emma, Forever Ago. Once it clicked for me, however, I got really into it. I've been streaming the new album off New York Times almost every day over the past week, it is truly an incredible release. It feels brighter than the last release, but maintains that low-key, almost ethereal quality that has defined his music.

YACHT - Shangri-La
Listening to the album streaming on NPR, the vocals remind me of Debbie Harry. I feel as though this band is a bit of a modern, electronic version of Blondie, at least at certain times. Electropop that avoids being more annoying than catchy is a difficult task, and YACHT rises to the challenge perfectly.
"Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire)"

Other releases:
Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread
Roxy Music - Manchester Manifesto
Weird Al Yankovic - Alpocalypse

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bonnaroo - Day 1

Last weekend, I got to experience what may be perhaps one of the best experiences known to man (or, at least, one of the best experiences of my life), the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. It was a weekend full of great musical performances and rampant hedonism (I did not participate in that bit).

I will likely have a few posts on my Bonnaroo experience, but I will start off, logically, with the first day.

The day started out with my amazingly awesome Bonnaroo neighbors (who adopted me for the weekend). We walked around the campgrounds a bit and checked out some of the outside vendors. We ended up at a tobacco pipe dealer where I ran into someone I hadn't seen since high school, go figure.

I then got in line to get into Bonnaroo. I started off my Bonnaroo experience peeking in on Fresh Trix Breakdancing at Solar Stage, They were OK, at best, but there really wasn't anything else going on yet. Afterwards, I got some food and sat down for Uncle Skeleton. I don't remember much about their music, I just remember a lot of people dancing to it. I was there mostly for the fans that spritzed water.


I made way back to the Solar Stage to check out the Kopecky Family Band (I hadn't heard of them before , but my neighbors were gushing about them). On the way, I ran into another person from high school. If I had known this would be a reunion, I would have brought my yearbook to sign. Kopecky was awesome, worth the new experience. Plus, they had a trombone, so I loved it!


After the Kopecky show, I got ready to camp out at The Other Tent since most of the shows I wanted to see the rest of the night were there. My day there started out with Hayes Carll, who was new to me, but had some fun songs. He impressed me by singing both the male and female parts of a song that started out as a duet.

Next on was Karen Elson, the (now ex-) wife of Jack Black. The model showed that she has the chops to hang with the big boys. Her backing band included Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs, but apparently that wasn't enough for some people. There were definitely some shouts of "show us your husband" throughout the crowd. Jack White did not join her on stage, but could be glimpsed backstage, carrying their son.

Why is Jack White divorcing her???

Next on the stage was Best Coast. Like with Karen Elson, one could glimpse significant others backstage. In this case, it was Bethany Cosentino's musician boyfriend Nathan Williams of Wavves. I was a bit disappointed with the performance. Although the band isn't exactly known for their high production values, the vocals live lost out a bit to everything else. It was still great to see them, Bethany looked uber-cute!

Cute dress!

Next up was The Drums, another beachy band with a surfer attitude. Unfortunately, it was also a bit of a disappointment. They don't have great stage presence and the vocals live were a The keyboardist, Jacob Graham, was amusing to watch however. He seemed to be conducting himself in the background (I seriously think he was high...very high).

Drums Still
In his own little world.

Finally, at that stage, I caught Sleigh Bells. There, I learned my first big lesson on careful who you choose to get in the front row for. As awesome as they were, I had a hard time enjoying the show as I was being pressed against the guard rail. I thought I was going to break a rib, I'm not joking. The band was still awesome, though!

Sleigh Bells still
Bright lights!

I next headed to That Tent to catch Deerhunter. While I love this band's music, their live performance really surprised me. Bradford Cox, the lead singer and guitarist, seems like someone who would be very quiet and reserved and I didn't think he would have any stage presence. I was dead wrong, he was funny and personable, he made the show that much better. Musically, they held on to everything that makes their work great.

Deerhunter Still
This dude is surprisingly awesome!

As uncomfortable as it was at times, the first day was a great introduction to Bonnaroo, and it only gets better!

Killer videos: Best Coast, Broken Social Scene & Frank Ocean

This first video is for "Gone Again," a non-album track from Best Coast. The video starts off with some menacing looking girls gearing up for a firing squad. The victims are three men, all tied to posts. Luckily for the men, they get hit with sweets like pies, marshmellows, gummy worms, chocolate syrup and ice cream. Seems like they're getting off easy getting decked out in s'mores ingredients...but are they?

This one starts out innocently enough, with Bijou Phillips singing to her love while drinking a glass of wine. Be warned, however, it gets pretty nasty in the middle. Before it gets and dirty, I do love the dress she's wearing.

The final video, for Frank Ocean's "We All Try," is not an official release from the artist, though still pretty awesome. A girl wakes up after a crazy evening and must, ahem, attend to some business from the night before. This one even has a twist ending!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Great cover: Blondie vs. Beirut

Blondie Beirut

Usually, when a band records a cover song, it's to pay homage (or ride the success of) an older, more established act from a younger, newer musician. Not in this case.

I got my hands on the long-awaited new album from Blondie (it won't be released in the US until September, but was already released in the UK) and found track #8 to be "Sunday Smile." Well, that name sounded familiar, so I gave it a listen. It's definitely the Beirut song! True to what the best covers do, it is in a style unique to Blondie - the reggae-tinged pop they first exhibited on another cover way back in the '80s, "The Tide is High."

As a bonus, that's Beirut's Zach Condon on trumpet in the song!



This isn't the first collaborative cover from Blondie recently. In April, for Record Store Day, Debbie Harry released a cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Live Alone" with the band's lead singer, Alex Kapranos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strange & Beautiful: Bon Iver & Panda Bear

There were two videos released by two great artists, both of which are, quite honestly, pretty weird, but beautiful at the same time.

The first video is from Bon Iver (who releases a new album next week!) for the song "Calgary." It starts with a mattress floating on some water and ends with...a mattress floating up (down?) from the ground with a bear on it. Yeah...but it's a really neat video.

The second video is not an official release from the artist, but is no less amazing. The video is for Panda Bear's "Surfer's Hymn" and features skeleton land surfers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 06/14/2011

After the excitement of last week's epic releases, it's hard to imagine that this one can live up at all, but it sure seems to be trying with two amazing releases (at least that I'm interested in)!

Junior Boys - It's All True
It's All True
These Canadian boys are back with their electro-tinged indie pop. They weren't happy wish their last album, so hopefully they've cleaned up those issues. Loved their second release, So This is Goodbye, and excited for this one!
"Itchy Fingers"

Woods - Sun & Shade
Sun & Shade
I recently became obsessed with this band's last effort, At Echo Lake. I even traveled all the way to Akron just to find it on vinyl ( I may have been visiting family as well). A lot of music gets labeled "freak folk", but this is one of the few times the subgenre is actually accessible. Love!
"Sol Y Sombra"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Music Tuesday - June 6, 2011 (epic)

So much new music this week!

Arctic Monkeys - Suck it and See
Suck it and See
Regardless of how good a songwriter Alex Turner may be, this album is further proof that the boys in this band are horrible at naming things. On early listen, however, this album is a great progression for this band (much better than Humbug, but I could never get into that one). I prefer the hard rock to the prog rock approach, much better.
Listen: "Brick by Brick"

Battles - Gloss Drop
Gloss Drop
I just heard of this band recently, but I can already tell that their music is a lot of fun. Their songs are crazy and random, as their videos...LOVE!
Watch: "Ice Cream"

Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
Arabia Mountain
Silly and irreverent, these guys don't give a f***. They became known for their shenanigans on stage, but have calmed down a bit over the past couple of years. Their music still has that crazy, don't-care edge, but it's interesting to see them grow up a bit.
Watch: "Modern Art"

Cults - Cults
I feel like I've already heard all the songs on this album through the band posting them to You-Tube over the past few months. I already knew I loved them and, finally, we get the full-length release. Listening to the stream on NPR, they have definitely made the wait well worth it.
Watch: "You Know What I Mean"

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - It's a Corporate World
It's a Corporate World
Touted as being for fans of David Bowie and the Talking Heads...I don't think they're that good, but they're a good listen. Easy to tell from the name and the album artwork that this is a band about having fun.
Listen: "Morning Thought"

F**ked Up - David Comes to Life
David Comes to Life
Hardcore punk really isn't my favorite genre, it can be a bit much to listen to. This band brings something truly unique to it, though. There's real musicianship, as evidenced by complex instrumentation and guitars you can actually hear. Then there's the lyrics that, while screamed, are actually comprehensible.
Listen: "A Little Death"

Hooray for Earth - True Loves
True Love
Another newer band for me, they kind of remind me of a more subdued version of Yeasayer. I like it so far.
Watch: "True Loves"

Sondre Lerche - Sondre Lerche
Sondre Lerche
Some of the best pop comes from Scandinavia, this artist from Norway. He may be one of the broadest artists out there, having done everything from pop, new wave and even jazz...and he's done all of them well. I'm told this release introduces some bossa nova (squeeeeaaalllll!) So excited to hear how he introduces that sound!
Listen: "Ricochet"

The Vines - Future Primitive
Future Primitive
This Australian band came out around the same time as many other "The" bands (The White Stripes, The Hives, The Strokes) and got thrown into the same group as the rest of 'em, though I like to think each one has their own interesting qualities. The timing of this release is interesting, on the heels of a long-awaited release from The Strokes and the official break-up of The White Stripes. It will be interesting to see whether they've managed to grow or change their sound the way that their peers did over their spans.
Watch: "Gimme Love"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 05/31//2011

Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
Codes and Keys
Death Cab is back with an album that's a bit of a departure from their past work. Honestly, at first listen...I'm not loving it. It's definitely less "poppy" than past albums, but I think that had been their strength. I do, however, like the lead single, "You Are a Tourist" and its live video (not live now, but it was filmed in a single take and streamed live at the moment of creation).
"Home is a Fire"

Joy Denalane - "Maureen"
You don't expect good soul music to come out of a country like Germany, but here it is. Fell in love with this artist from her previous album, Born and Raised, and so excited for the follow-up. Unfortunately, it only seems to have been released so far in her native Germany, so keep on the lookout for a US release (fingers crossed - doesn't always happen).
"Niemand (Was Wir Nicht Tun)"

My Morning Jacket - Circuital
Love this one already. MMJ brings together the best of so many unique styles, but I think this may already be my favorite of all their albums. I've heard they're, like, a-gazillion times better live, so next week, at Bonnaroo, I'll get to find out for sure!
"Outta My System"