Thursday, September 29, 2011

Midpoint Music Festival

Cincinnati just makes me keep loving it more and more. I thought it was good enough that the city is large enough to attract many of my favorite musicians, but the city also hosts an annual music festival bringing to town dozens of acts, almost all indie, and representing local, national and international bands. The festival was held this past weekend (Thursday through Saturday) throughout many venues in Over-the-Rhine. The weekend was incredible and, despite it being a smaller festival, managed to bring in much of the appeal of larger events, while also making it feel like a night out.

Like any good music festival, there was more than just music. A few food trucks were in attendance, serving everything from pretzels, to quesadillas, to pastries. Street food was in abundance, and a little yet-to-open Belgian restaurant held a soft opening just for the festival (best waffles ever!). There were also poster sellers in attendance, I got myself a Washed Out poster. One stand at the festival even had a giant Connect Four game.

The music was the real attraction, though. With only three nights, with most performances between 6:00 PM and 1:00 AM, and 175 acts, it was quite impossible to see everything, but I was able to catch a good mix. The first night, I saw local act The Seedy Seeds (who I first saw opening for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), eclectic band Suckers, The Joy Formidable, and, as the highlight of the night, The Dodos. While I think this is true of many many bands and musicians, The Dodos are another one of those that may be best appreciated live.

The second night was a little more subdued for me. I caught Okkervil River at the Dewey Tent, who were another astronomical band. I had planned to stick around to see Xiu Xiu, but the venue was full and they weren't letting people in. I decided to head to the venue where Gang Gang Dance would be later performing, but my tiredness got the better of me and I headed home. Lame...I know.

The final night, however, I knew was going to be another good night. It was back to the Dewey Tent for Washed Out, one of my absolute new favorite bands. After their show, I stuck around for Cut Copy. They perhaps had the best audience reaction of all the bands I saw over the weekend. They stood out more in the festival than they had in several months on my iPod.

An amazing weekend in the Queen City and I'm pretty excited for this event next year!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/27/2011

September turned out to be a better than great month for new music and this last week proves no exception!

The Duke Spirit - Bruiser

I've been waiting for this one for a long while. The first time, I heard the band, I was in an American Eagle store and they showed the music video for "The Step and the Walk." The lead singer, Liela Moss, has an amazing raspy voice and the band brings a cool, modern, vibe to garage rock. They've been teasing this album for several months. The cover and name were out at the beginning of this year and an EP was released late last year. They, however, only announced just this past Sunday that the new album would be out this week. I love surprises!
"Cherry Tree"

Dum Dum Girls -Only in Dreams

Their previous album, I Will Be, was one of my favorites last year. I just love their fuzzed out, rocked out, '60s-style girl pop. Ronettes-style pop may be ubiquitous (and wonderful) as of late, but I think that they have definitely had the best of it. I already have a feeling they'll make my top list again! Check out their kaleidoscopic video for "Bedroom Eyes" below!


Justice - Audio, Video, Disco EP

France produces some of the best house music out there, though I didn't really think that I liked the genre before Justice game along with "D.A.N.C.E.". This EP is just a taste, a full album will be released in October. By the way, in the song, they're saying the name of the song over and over...it took me a while to realize that's what they were saying.
"Audio, Video, Disco"

M83 - Midnight City EP

Also teasing us with a remix EP this week is another French artist (goodness, they're such teases over there, aren't they?), M83. He does incorporate some elements of electronica into his music, but the sound is much more pop than Justice and many other popular French musicians. He drops a full length, oddly enough, in October, too.
"Midnight City"

Sleeper Agent - Celebrasian

If there's nothing else that I love about the return of "120 Minutes" on MTV(2) is that it's another great source to find new music. The second episode featured a video by this band and they rocked! They've garnered a lot of well-earned comparisons to Cage the Elephant, their recent tour-mates. It's a fair comparison, though the presence of a female vocalists really livens things up! Below, watch the video for "Get It Daddy" that stole my heart.


Twin Sister -In Heaven

The debut is finally hear! After a couple of great EPs and earlier releases of songs that just left me wanting more, Twin Sister has released their debut album. I'm excited to hear what these female-led, energized & funked-up chillwavers (is that an oxymoron?) have to offer. By the way, does seem to be turning out to be the day for women and the French???
"Kimmi in a Ricefield"

Wilco - The Whole Love

Finally, a break from all these women and French, and techno and pop. Here we have an all-male, alternative/country rock band. The Whole Love is Wilco's eighth album. So, yeah, they've been around for awhile, but, thankfully, they haven't lost their appeal to me yet. More great music from another great band! Fun tidbit: if you're driving North on 475 on Indianapolis' east side, there's a company named Wilco. I think it's separate from the band, but you never know!
"I Might"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project Runway rocks out

If there's anything that seems to have defined Project Runway since its move to Lifetime, it is an inability to define itself as something separate from its incarnation on Bravo and every show that followed in the same format. Many of the shows challenges have been either sad copies of Bravo-era challenges and shift to greater focus on commercial design has really hindered the quality and appeal of the designs presented. There has also been an over-focus on team challenges (probably with the hopes of creating conflict). In this current season, there have already been four team challenges, while past seasons have rarely exceeded three.

Thursday night, however, I saw a glimpse that Lifetime may be finally working out how to make the show their own, although it was in yet another team challenge. The designers were tasked with creating outfits for The Sheepdogs.

For some background on The Sheepdogs. They are a "boogie rock" (never heard that one before, though I think it's essentially roots-blues rock) band from Canada. Rolling Stone magazine recently held a contest to place an unsigned band on the cover and The Sheepdogs won! It seems as though the team challenge was in some way a collaboration with the magazine, which I honestly think was a genius idea.

The execution, though, is another story...

Like I said, I really liked the idea of collaborating with Rolling Stone to further publicize the band and this actually is a unique and interesting challenge idea. Most of the designers' creations, however, felt costume-y. It's like they listened to the band's music, heard the '70s roots rock feel and decided to the bandmembers in the bastard children of bad '70s fashion. Think Lynyrd Skynyrd's flower children.

Here is the winning look:

Yes, that is epic fringe.
Horrible outfits aside, this was actually my first introduction to the band, and their music is quite good. You would think asking the public to pick their favorite band for the cover of a major publication would lead to the choice of some questionable pop, but America chose good!

Listen to "Who?" below, which the band performed twice on the show:


Also, if you want to watch the episode, it is posted over at Lifetime's website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/20/2011

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Hysterical

Although I only started listening to them just this past year, I already know their rise and fall story well. The band burst onto the scene with the catchy and infectious self-titled debut. They rushed out a follow-up that was considered a disappointment. More time has passed between the ill-fated second album and this release than between the debut and second. I think it shows, it's a good listen, though nothing earth-shattering. Something that I can't determine to be good or bad...the vocalist sounds a bit like Thom Yorke.
"Maniac" (live)

Jens Lekman - An Argument With Myself EP

Excessive attention to detail while writing music in a foreign tongue is somewhat rare among Nordic artists. It seems many of them prefer to go towards the vague and symbolic (think Tallest Man on Earth). Jens Lekman is a different, type, though. His lyrics describe details down to the least important minutiae. I like his style because, although he crams a lot of words into short spaces, he does it in a way that doesn't sound too busy. Sadly, as an EP, it's only a little taste.
"An Argument With Myself"

Kasabian - Velociraptor

This may be one of the last bastion of British indie rock bands to garner attention after the success of The Strokes to still maintain a fairly strong post-punk sound. They were never among my absolute favorites, but good if you're feeling a little nostalgic for the darker part of the mid-80s.
"Switchblade Smile"

Tori Amos - Night of Hunters

Complete honesty, most of my appreciation for Tori Amos comes from the video for "A Sort of Fairytale," which featured Adrian Brody at the time I had a strange crush on him (I know, I know). She, of course, has had a much broader career than that song. I will take this as an opportunity to get to know her music!
"Shattering Sea"

Wavves - Life Sux EP

This release features one of the more interesting (read: awesome) shout outs ever in a song, "I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl." It's just the type of thing you'd expect a band like Wavves to say, kinda silly. I love that about the band, they don't really care about anything.
"I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Video: Beirut's "Santa Fe"

I guess we all have our own ways of dealing with grief, even if it is hallucinations and thievery.


Friday, September 16, 2011

This my jam: "Bad Street"


Is Twin Sister perhaps the female version of Toro Y Moi, except funkier? Much funkier, I think. I can imagine myself dancing the Electric Slide to this track. Twin Sister is releasing their first album in September, which I am SO excited for! This is such a perfect song.

How to save the USPS

You may have heard that the USPS is having some hard times, former MTV VJ Damien Fahey has the solution:


It did kinda work for vinyl records...

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/13/2011 (Part 3)

See Parts 1 and 2

Neon Indian - Era Extra├▒a

Neon Indian is part of the so-called "chillwave" trend. The genre is characterized by electronic, but ethereal sounds over the background of a more defined beat and Neon Indian is definitely a great example of the sound. I had listened a bit to their debut Psychic Chasms after the band worked some with the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. I found the first single from this new release, though, much more interesting and it drew me in a lot more than their debut album itself had done.
"Fallout"

PJ Harvey - iTunes Session EP

PJ Harvey released her album, Let England Shake, earlier this year, and won the Mercury Award for it just last week. She's one of those artists that have been around seemingly forever, but hasn't lost her ability to draw in audiences. Her Live iTunes EP features four songs from her award-winning album, as well as tracks from past releases.
"Let England Shake"

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

This is a very close second for my most anticipated album of the week. I only recently became mildly obsessed with St. Vincent. I had listened to her some, but bought an amazing concert poster online from one of her shows and felt like I should probably be listening to her more. I discovered just how truly amazing her debut album, Marry Me, was and knew that she was going to be an exciting listen. Her past albums have relied more on computer-generated  backing sounds, this one is more guitar-driven. For that, I have dubbed her, the new guitar goddess.
"Northern Lights

Toro Y Moi - Freaking Out EP

Like one artist with new music out today, Toro Y Moi (real name: Chaz Bundick) is also commonly thrown into the "chillwave" group, though his sounds has a more funk aesthetic to it compared to artists he's commonly grouped with. Like another artist, he released a critically acclaimed album already this year, Underneath the Pine. The EP is a short taste of some new material. The sound hasn't changed much in the few months that have passed, but the sound is still great.
"All Alone"

WILD FLAG - WILD FLAG

Female indie rock supergroup. Seriously, the perfect trifecta for great music (though an very rare one). WILD FLAG combines members of Sleater-Kinney and Helium, bands that really got their starts in the early '90s. I have little experience with their earlier bands, but knew I liked what I heard when I heard this one. So much so, I know I'm going to reach into their back catalogs. This is a good place to start, though.
"Romance"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/13/2011 (Part 2)

See Part 1

The Drums - Portomento

The Drums were an early part of the surf rock-inspired wave (pun intended) of music a couple of years ago. Their songs were light and poppy, heck they even had songs about surfing. I got a sense, however, when I saw them at Bonnaroo, that their follow-up to The Drums would take them in a slightly different direction. It did, the album, while still featuring the lighter melodies, shows a lot of growth and maturity. They're starting to sound like The Smiths.
"Money"

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Girls is another band seeing a bit of growth and maturity in their sophomore albums. Their debut album seemed to draw inspiration a bit from surf rock, but also from everything else. The sophomore albums promises to be darker. I hope that the variety of influences is still present on this release.
"Vomit"

Kevin Devine - Between the Concrete and Clouds

I don't actually know that much about Kevin Devine as a solo artist. I know that he's worked with some of my favorite artists, like Manchester Orchestra. Listening to a couple of the songs from the new album, his sound seems simple and introspective, almost like an acoustic version of the music Manchester Orchestra makes. Granted, I can only find acoustic, live versions of the song, so I'm only presuming that the style holds to the studio recordings.
"I Used to Be Someone"

The Kooks - Junk of the Heart

I guess maturing the sound is the name of the game for this group of Tuesday's releases. The Kooks also started out with songs that were somewhat light-hearted and fun. They were never the top-ranking musicians, even among British indie rock, but I always loved their style, especially on their first album, Inside In/Inside Out. They calmed down a bit on their second album and even more-so on this third release. Comparatively, it has become a bit boring, but there's always a gem or two on their releases.
"Junk of the Heart (Happy)"

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

I don't even know where to begin with this one. This might be my own personal most anticipated release of the week, potentially of the season. Marling comes from the same London scene that gave us Mumford & Sons (she even dated Marcus Mumford for a spell). Though she also has a style that errs towards folk, she exercises a more traditional sound than some of her contemporaries. She's only 21, but sounds much wiser beyond her years. This is her third album and, with each release, her sound just grows exponentially.
"Sophia"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/13/2011 (Part 1)

There is A LOT of music coming out this week (I think all of these artists got together to make me poor). Because of the sheer volume of releases, I'm going to break this week's up into three separate posts, just to make it a bit more manageable.

Blind Pilot - We Are the Tide

I discovered Blind Pilot through iTunes' Single of the Week a few years ago (back when checking those out was still worth it), and loved the folksy sound they exhibited, although that sound has become awfully ubiquitous lately. They've added a few members and are returning with ten new gems. The album's fairly standard, but still an enjoyable listen.
"Just One"

Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing

I used to add music to my iTunes fairly indiscriminately, which gave me a lot of stuff to clean out when I realized how little of it I actually listened to (though I still have an overloaded playlist). Blitzen Trapper is something that I added without much thought or prior experience with, but have grown to love. They've found a weird niche between experimental and country. My first listen of the new album tells me they're going for a little more of an accessible sound, but, for me, they can never go wrong!
"American Goldwing"

Blondie - Panic of Girls

This album came out back in June in a pretty awesome-sounding collector's pack. The album was released with a full magazine about the album's making, the band's history and a ton of photographs. Unfortunately, that was only for the UK release of the album. The American release on Tuesday is decidedly less exciting. I managed to get my hands on a copy (of the album, not the magazine) this past summer. I'd say it's a return to form for the band, though high-lighting more their reggae influence than punk/new wave background. I don't think they'll ever be as great as Parallel Lines again but I'll always love them.
"Sunday Smile"

CANT - Dreams Come True

CANT is the side project of Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor. This is his first solo album, though he was releasing music under the moniker two years ago. The album starts off sounding like some sort of cross between Sufjan Stevens' most recent album and some of the "chillwave" artists that have become so popular lately (Neon Indian, Washed Out, etc.), but descends into a mostly instrumental, somewhat industrial sounding feel. It's an interesting amalgamation of what Taylor has done throughout his career, which, in addition to Grizzly Bear, includes production for Twin Shadow, Dirty Projectors and The Morning Benders.
"Believe"

Cuckoo Chaos - Woman

One of my favorite websites, Refinery 29, is a great resource for fashion. They have a daily feature, however, featuring a Song of the Day. The styles featured are fairly broad, though they do seem to prefer music with a pop or electronic aesthetic. That is where I heard of this band. They were featured on the site back in July. I would say that this fits well into the "pop" side of their preferences. The site highlights a lot of great new artists that I often wouldn't have heard of otherwise, this is another great one!
"Just Ride It"

Friday, September 9, 2011

WILD FLAG - "Romance"

The video from girl supergroup WILD FLAG shows these ladies as they take a lunch break. Their activities involve causing simple chaos while wearing masks. So much for exercising over my lunch break, I'm gonna start shooting dice in alleyways!



"It says it's a pie chart, but it's shaped like a square."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 09/06/2011

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Terrible Angels EP
Terrible Angels
After giving birth just in June, Miss Gainsbourg is making sure this is still a very busy year for herself, although she is getting a late start. She's releasing this EP today and, in November a double album. While I certainly wouldn't blame her for sitting down and taking some rest after having her third child, I'm so happy she's gracing us with more wonderful music!

Check out her awesome video for the title track, featuring a dance troupe of Gainsbourg clones!


Luke Temple - Don't Act Like You Don't Care 
Don't Act Like You Don't Care
Luke Temple is the face of indie rock band Here We Go Magic, but has had a longer career as a solo artist (which I didn't really know until I got into his band). This is his third solo album, though I can't say I've devoted very much listening time to his solo work. I do love his band, but I've read that he himself is "unconfined by genre," so this could be a fun introduction.
"Ophelia"

Monday, September 5, 2011

A quartet of awesome covers

Washed Out - "Wicked Games" (Chris Isaak)

Washed Out

Chris Isaak

I hate to keep making the same pun on this artist's name, but this really is a washed-out-sounding version of the Chris Isaak classic. While the original had crooning almost worthy of Elvis Presley, Washed Out's cover presents a more airy, ethereal sound more in keeping with his style of music.

Feist - "Femme Fatale" (The Velvet Undergound)

Feist

The Velvet Underground

This is a fairly faithful cover, Feist even has a similar quality to her voice as Nico. Feist's is a bit fuller-sounding and faster. By the way, Feist will be releasing a new album soon, October 4, so be sure to check that out!

Lykke Li - "Velvet" (The Big Pink)

Lykke Li

The Big Pink

Li's cover is a sparse, simplified version of the initially synth-heavy song. Both are pretty awesome, but I love the sense of longing that Li's voice introduces to the song.The cover version is off of a recently-released iTunes Session.

Bat for Lashes - "Strangelove" (Depeche Mode)

Bat for Lashes

Depeche Mode

Almost as synth-heavy as the original, but Bat for Lashes slows things down a lot. Maybe it's just me, but I feel as though a lot of new wave/synth pop covers end up sounding more apropos than the originals. Often, they're slowed-down and darker sounding, which fits the lyrics of many of the songs better than the faster originals (see: Gary Jules cover of "Mad World"). Anyways, this cover was recorded for a Gucci cologne commercial which ran in France and I have never seen, but will look for.

Iconic Rock 'N Roll Hairstyles

Stumbling around the web yesterday, I found chart showing well-known hairstyles in music from 1954 to present. It begins with Bill Haley and ends with Lady Gaga, although I don't know how they chose among her many looks. The chart goes through all of the eras of rock 'n roll and has a good collection of artists represented multiple eras, as well as broad styles.

Rock Haircuts

While I found the chart on Fast Company's website, it is a creation of Pop Chart Lab, which has an actual 18" x 24" poster of it for sale. I'm probably going to buy it. They also invite people to tweet them omissions (@popchartlab; #Rockhair) which they'll include in the next poster!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Get Real, Get Right"

One of the YouTube comments sums it up best: "stop motion-y."



From Sufjan Stevens

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I somehow forgot about this

In all of my excitement about visiting the Music City in late July, I forgot to post on the main reason for the trip. I had traveled to Nashville, TN to see one of my new favorite bands, Royal Bangs.

The band has released three albums (the first being with Patrick Carney's record label, Audio Eagle), but are only now starting to get some real attention. That said, the crowd at their show, at The End, was still very small. I had been unsure of whether to go to the show, but a local friend who saw them at SXSW earlier this year had nothing but praise for their live show and convinced me to go.

The venue itself is tucked away and kind of hidden. I had done a drive-by earlier, when it was light out, to make sure I could find it and drove past it a few times before seeing it. Thankfully, that made it a lot easier to find it that night. The place is a little sketchy-looking, to be honest, but there was something charming about the dive-bar aesthetic. I especially loved the glow-in-the-dark wall with the names of numerous bands (both major and more underground) on one of the walls. I would say that these were the names of bands that had performed there, but I doubted some of the acts they listed.

Probably mostly due to the time that has passed since the show, I don't really remember much about the opening acts. I know I didn't hate them, but apparently they didn't stand out much either. I do remember that the girl on keyboards for the first act was wearing a really ill-fitting dress and badly needed a bra, and that the lead singer of the second band had a strong David Byrne feel to his stage presence (meaning: awkward dancing).

SL383788

The main act was incredible though. The band is very young and does have a long way to go in terms of stage presence. Despite their youth, however, they are incredible musicians and songwriters. The show was simple, disappointingly short, but overall enjoyable. I apologize for not having more details, it was a little while ago. Just know that this is definitely a band to check out when you get the chance.

SL383791

That pretty much capped off my incredible weekend in Nashville. The perfect end to some time in the Music City!

How to Rock Properly

Complete Guide to Rocking

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Tribe Called Quest

I've been a fan of the rapper Q-Tip for a little while now, but hadn't yet really gotten into the group that got him started in the music business, A Tribe Called Quest (probably blasphemous of me, I know).

Last week, my local independent movie theater was showing the recently released documentary about the rap group, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport (who you may remember as the loud-mouthed teacher on "Boston Public").


There had been some controversy, especially criticism from members Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad over who should be telling the story of hip hop. were portrayed in the film. While I agree that he doesn't exactly come out smelling like roses, I appreciated the chance to learn about the group's start, collaborations, break-up and recent reunification.

I'm not sure many theaters will still be showing this, but if you love hip hop or even just music in general, I would definitely check this out if you ever get the chance.

Thanks to the doc, I have also been obsessed with their music for the past week or so! Favorite track...probably "Push it Along" (so far, at least!)