Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"You could blame it on the music but it wouldn't be right..."

I think of myspace as a huge joke, but sometimes, it comes through for ya. Myspace does a lot of secret music shows, one of which was the !!! (chk chk chk) show at Maxwell's. (Another of which was a James Blunt show, I don't know what I was thinking).

Anyway, !!! was insane. They had a bit of makeup on but don't seem to be makeup wearing guys on the whole. I mention this because I feel like the addition of excessive makeup and glamness to the band would take it in a direction that it doesn't need to go. Anyway, enough people had heard of them where I got stuck in the back, but the energy was off the wall and for that sweaty good time, I commend them. They seem to oscillate back and forth between taking themselves a bit seriously (in a good way) and just cutting loose and doing silly things like dancing the twist in the middle of their songs. It's kind of like they hadn't realized that they're professional music makers and still retained that same somewhat juvenile fun of high school or college rock bands. Refreshing, really, because in that kind of atmosphere you can let go and dance and jump around with the audience and just go with the flow of the night.

!!! (chk chk chk) - Must Be The Moon (Hot Chip Remix)

!!! - Hello? Is This Thing On?

Also, before I end this post, I checked my site counter thing earlier today and noticed that over the course of maybe 40 posts, I've gotten well over 5,000 people visit. So wow!! Thank you all for reading and listening! :-D

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"I needed you to notice..."

Returning from the weekend back into my concert list.

Shiny Toy Guns at Fearless Studios.

At two points during the year, I don't know what I was thinking as far as potential jobs were concerned. I sent in an application to be a veejay for both Concert TV and Fearless Music. The former did not get back to me though I thought it was a better prepared application and I've been to an insane number of concerts and have so many stories. I actually got the chance to interview for the latter (I genuinely assume that musical knowledge/cheery personality won them over, as I don't think of myself as looking like an "in front of the camera" person. Confirming this, they opted to go with this college frat looking dudebro, and then phased that out as well and mostly only show minimalistic studio performances). Anyway, Shiny Toy Guns were there that evening, and the small group of people who were there both as staff and interviewing got the chance to stand way in the back of the small space behind the cameras and catch the show. I count this as lucky because there must not have been more than 15 people total, if even that.

Their energy fit in with where they were performing. And the female lead sang each song boldly, even throwing herself on the ground a la Madonna or The Sounds, though I'm not sure if they used that footage because I know that the vocals and music wound up being out of sync the teeniest bit. I don't even think I had heard of them much or perhaps at all before then, but I know they performed Le Disko and Don't Cry Out and a few other songs. It felt like a supremely small set and I had to leave for another interview and couldn't stick around to chat up the band. That would've been something, yeah? I feel like they could've done more as far as being electrifying, but it was a studio performance rather than a full out concert. But it still felt like something special and you knew you were in the presence of a really fun band on the verge of something great.

Shiny Toy Guns - Don't Cry Out from We Are Pilots

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"And there will always be a part of me, nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me..."

Ben Folds at Muhlenberg College.

I saw Ben Folds in March as a birthday present from the Randall to my Dante (bringing it back!) and co-BBIF (BBIF is a long story that involves a friend of ours calling me a "Big Breasted Indian Friend" except this girl's "I" stands for "Italian"), Alison. The auditorium was packed and Ben focused on a lot more of his newer material (Songs for Silverman and Supersunnyspeedgraphic). However, his piano playing ability was astronomical. I would think he was on crazy amounts of speed if it weren't for the fact that he was incredibly precise and playing like it was his last day on earth. Having seen him later with John Mayer, I can definitely say that the passion and drive were there at Muhlenberg and made for a better show. The best show I've seen of his, by far. It felt like he wanted to be there and wasn't just playing a show because he was on tour. He felt alive.

The energy level that he poured out onto the crowd was reflected back to him as a result, and he was very much a captivating presence. He kept discussing this $8000 instrument he had purchased (it looked like a keytar or synthesizer or something) and was hilarious. At one point, he launched into an insanely wonderful rendition of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" (better than the cover of it that's floating around online) and managed to play one instrument with his toes, while continuing on the piano with his hands.

We were in Ben Folds' direct line of sight (we showed up early and positioned ourselves as close to in front of his piano as possible) and had opted to wear very bright colors. We were clearly the only people who were rocking out and knew all the lyrics. During and after the show, Ali and I discussed amongst ourselves how we definitely thought that Ben Folds kept looking at us, and one or more of her friends who was with us said the same thing without having heard our story. This led us to the logical conclusion that Ben Folds probably thought we were awesome. And we are.

Ben Folds - Gracie from Songs for Silverman

Ben Folds - Landed

Ben Folds - Such Great Heights

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"They say the wretched get their kingdom..."

Howdy. Here's another concert story from the top five of my year in limbo.

I Am X at the Knitting Factory. I went with my friends, Chris and Aaron, both of whom are big Sneaker Pimps/I Am X fans so I was in good company. The line outside was immensely fascinating because it was a grand mix of (literally) people in business suits and their tan overcoats, and overly made up punkish looking kids wearing a lot of black. We stood in the middle of them all, hanging out, talking amongst ourselves and to the business folk. It was a sold out show, and due to some flaketastic reasons out of my control, I didn't have a ticket. I made it inside to where the box office was and asked to buy a ticket. I was denied, duh. But I stood there and talked to the person, attempting to pull forward that sometimes dormant charismatic and convincing side and sure enough eventually, after she looked both ways and made sure the other people she turned away weren't around, she acquiesced and gave me a VIP stamp. I didn't even get charged for a ticket. I wound up having to buy a round of drinks for the three of us as it was put forward that it wasn't fair that I didn't have to pay for tickets and everyone else did. I love talking my way into stuff. It's like a hobby at this point.

Anyway, Chris Corner put on an amazing show that had an almost dark circus feel to it. I suppose it was the silver top hat outfit he was wearing. He had these staccatto bursts of energy that made him appear almost machine like rather than fluid though his vocals were brilliant and transitions seamless. He wasn't much for audience conversation, but he knew just when to engage New Yorkers in their city pride. For the encores, he and the band were joined by his girlfriend, Sue Denim, from . Soy good. If I had known about The Mighty Boosh earlier than that night, I would've tried to look for Julian Barratt or Noel Fielding, but alas.

I Am X - Bring Me Back a Dog from The Alternative

I Am X - Spit It Out

I Am X - Kiss & Swallow (this song live is killer, by the way)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Kiss me before you go. I'm going low and lately..."

I have a million lists going at once on this blog. I'll get back to songs I enjoy from commercials eventually. I was thinking today about how my year in limbo has almost come to an end and about some of the shows I've seen and mentally narrowed down the individuals or acts I thought were tops.

So here's a list of my favorite five shows from this past year (and the artists you have to look forward to hearing about these next couple of days):
1. Ray LaMontagne at Maxwell's.
2. Emily Haines at Joe's Pub.
3. Ben Folds at Muhlenberg College.
4. I Am X at the Knitting Factory.
5. Either Shiny Toy Guns at Fearless Studios or !!! at Maxwell's.

Anyway, I'll start with my favorite first.
Ray LaMontagne is battered, soulful, and brilliant. He has a lot of competition from the likes of James Morrison or Amos Lee, but I think he can stand on his own. What I feel separates him from the others of his musical genre is the passion. You can hear the desperation, anger, or pain in his voice while the charged blinking of his eyes take you on a journey of their own. I don't think I've witnessed a person look at the audience less than Ray does, but you don't feel disconnected from it. Rather, you feel drawn in as he is, everyone lost in the music having a quieted individualized experience. He is also the rare performer whose live presence and sound far outshines the recorded material that labels have been distributing.

Maxwell's, in particular, was quite conducive to this type of music. It's dark and somber, one of the smaller venues I've encountered in my concert time. People show up early to have dinner and hang out at the bar down the corridor from the stage, which is great, because a lot of the acts do the same thing. As a fan, you have the opportunity to interact with people you enjoy on a more personal level: buying them drinks, having a good conversation over a newspaper, hanging out before the divide between artist and audience begins. While I didn't do that with the Ray LaMontagne show, it was still the perfect background and atmosphere for his slow singer-songwriter music and allowed him to feel both bittersweet and comforting through the melodies and vocals. In summary, Ray LaMontagne is like an old army jacket: worn through, full of character, comfortable, but precious enough where you can feel so many stories emanating through the very threads that comprise the material.

Ray LaMontagne - Barfly from Till the Sun Turns Black

Ray LaMontagne - Trouble - from the series Live from Abbey Road. (By the way, that series is phenomenal. If you are into the process behind recording in the famed studio and different bands' takes on how they make their music, I suggest checking it out on the Sundance Channel).

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Are you ready for this? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?"

We're having a little building party here in Jersey. The neighbors are gathering together to hang out. It's fun because I'm the youngest of the bunch and I've known them throughout my life but I don't think I've witnessed them party. So some will watch movies, some will play cards, and most will drink. I'm compiling some music to play and one thing everyone agreed on was "Another One Bites the Dust." Random, but yay! I, for one, cannot wait to get my drink on (various chambord related concoctions) and school some folks in poker (I'll probably lose, I suck at card games if I'm not in a casino).

Queen - Another One Bites the Dust from The Platinum Collection

And here's a random Queen video because I feel like it: These Are the Days of Our Lives

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"If anyone finds out, I'll turn their lights out..."

I ran across this Brooklyn band, Free Blood, today, and when I heard their song "The Royal Family," I was intrigued. They don't have many tracks on their myspace page, though it seems that they have a vinyl coming out in the fall or winter following a current release in the UK. Their sound is very futuristic and strange, but not in a "Daft Punk/Basement Jaxx friendly aliens who like to boogie" way, but more an "apocalyptic the humans are dead" way. Then, without warning, the music takes flight. The male vocals drove me crazy before the changeover, as I thought the man's voice sounded like Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. The sound also nagged at me because it reminded me of another act but I couldn't quite figure out whom... and then it hit me: Islands. I think the strange vocals paired with a pulsing beat are reminiscent of some of the work of the Islands. Or maybe I'm just crazy. Either scenario is quite plausible.

Take a listen for yourselves.

Free Blood - The Royal Family

Islands - Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone from Return to the Sea.

"All dressed up and dressed to kill..."

Junior Senior had their cd release at Trash this past weekend. Due to other commitments, I couldn't attend. Boo! Oh well.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering why it took so long for this album to be released in the United States in the first place. Hey Hey My My Yo Yo is not actually a new album from Junior Senior. It was released internationally two years ago (almost two years to the day), and is only now being released here. To my knowledge, Junior Senior is already at work on forthcoming material as well. Oh, music industry, you are a curious beast.

I have yet to listen to the full album, but I have a feeling it will be pretty marvelous. It even has contributions from The B-52's and Le Tigre, so that has me interested already.

Here's some new and old Junior Senior to blend into your bright and sunny day.

Junior Senior - Can I Get Get Get from Hey Hey My My Yo Yo

And my personal favorite:

Junior Senior - Shake Your Coconuts from D-D-Don't Don't Stop the Beat

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Gimme some time cuz if you don't, I won't..."

The Go!Team's music is incredibly infectious, so I think it was a smart move on the part of the Honda Civic people to use it in the background of their commercial. It doesn't particularly make me want to purchase or lease a Honda Civic, but at the very least, I don't mind watching the commercial several times over.

The Go!Team - Huddle Formation from Thunder, Lightning, Strike

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"You're like water for my soul when it gets thirsty..."

Matisyahu destroyed my car!

I was driving home from the mandir, and Matisyahu came on the radio. I spun the volume dial up rapidly and rode through the streets with my Hasidic Jewish reggae blasting. I was singing along to the chorus, "So what's this feeling? /My love could rip a hole in the ceiling / I give myself to you from the essence of my being / and I sing to my God these songs of" and by the time I could get out the words "love and healing" my car started flickering and shut off. I was also in the middle of a turn, but luckily the momentum carried through and I was able to drive another two blocks and pull over. The emergency blinker wouldn't even turn on! Everything turned out fine thanks to the help of some family friends whom I had called, various cops that happened to be patrolling in the area, and the fact that I'm easily amused and love having stories. I called some folks, caught up with friends, and decided to buy myself a present. So all is well and my (family's) car is in the shop as we speak. Probably the alternator, right?

I actually don't know anything about cars, I just thought that sounded cool to say.

Matisyahu - King Without a Crown from Live at Stubb's

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"This is what it's like on a fantasy..."

Returning to posting some songs that have been featured in commercials lately, I noticed that husband and wife duo, Mates of State, were included in an AT&T wireless ad. As a fan of male-female shifting vocals and the slight disjointedness of their composition, it delighted me to see/hear them in 14 seconds of commercial. Maybe some ad exec will take the cue from this and toss the Stars a contract in favor of their rebounding vocals as well. Hey, you never know.

I found it strange that they chose "For the Actor" for this ad, though. With the Kenna commercial, at least a song was chosen that people hadn't been exposed to yet, and that helped garner some interest in the forthcoming material, but this album's been out for at least a year.

Mates of State - For the Actor from Bring it Back

Monday, August 6, 2007

"And it's plain to see you were meant for me..."

I've had a very fun and relaxing weekend that concluded in such the right way that I came out of it feeling hyper and loved. I even had to explain to Cheryl when we met up that I was not at all drunk, but merely happy and probably full of ice cream. Dublin Mudslide = yum!

So here are my musical notes, anecdotes, and shout outs to sum up my weekend.

Happy Birthday, Cher!! I am looking forward to celebrating and showing you a great time. I'm also glad we got to have a Harold and Kumar moment in the ghetto that is Orange. You are the authority in lighthearted fun.

I remember we used to drive around in her car on the way to bowling or the movies and she would always have mixes in the cd player of stuff like Eve 6, Marvelous 3, and OK Go.

OK Go - Don't Ask Me from their self titled album, OK Go

This video isn't OK Go (except for the music) but I loved the idea of someone's family putting this on as a dance skit for their daughter's wedding reception! It's sweet.

I hope you feel better, Ali! In an effort to speed up the process, here's that David Duchovny song you love. Plus, he has that new series on Showtime and though the reviews are awful, the billboards are great. And hey, he still has that second X-Files movie coming out eventually, which doesn't make any sense to me considering the Lone Gunmen are dead and Mulder ran away with Scully. What plot could they possibly come up with?

Bree Sharp - David Duchovny from Cheap and Evil Girl

After eating dinner at Vynl, we were wandering to Penn Station to catch a train back to New Jersey (it's the new Shangri-la, I swear) and some drunk yeah-dudes said something to which I issued a standard death glare response and then let it slide (for once). Patrick; however, wanted to turn around on 9th ave and fight some guys in defense of my honor. He gets to be my knight in shining armor. Though I wasn't in the mood for a battle this time, if there's ever a next time, I won't stop him. I'll even throw the first punch.

Queen - (I set my Queen music to random and just picked the first track that came up) The Show Must Go On which can be found on The Platinum Collection amongst others.

Queen - Don't Stop Me Now

A bunch of us (Jonathan, Jeremy, Cher, Patrick, myself) got together for a chill movie night and watched Velvet Goldmine. Hilariously, no one else liked it (I still enjoy the style and music and Oscar Wilde-inspired dialogue, but I'm partial, so I guess that's a neutral vote from me). Regardless, I look forward to our bringing back the glam rock hedonism and decadence once we've all established ourselves, and someone can smoke from a really long cigarette holder while Jonathan has a tranny entourage.

I seriously love you all so much.

Placebo - 20th Century Boy from Velvet Goldmine soundtrack.

Ballad of Maxwell Demon

Friday, August 3, 2007

"It's out of control, and I don't care what is happening..."

I've been noticing lately how the music in commercials has been getting better. And by "better," I mean, they're simply choosing to go with an increasing number of established musical acts as opposed to hiring someone to create the background music. From The Go!Team's "Huddle Formation" being in a Civic ad to Sting's "Brand New Day" being played in the background of a Lexus commercial, the cross promotion of artists and products is definitely (smartly) on the rise.

For no apparent reason, I felt like doing a couple of days' worth of artists + their commercials for other stuff.

And because it was overused in *everything,* I will not be putting up The Postal Service for this segment.

I'll start out with Kenna, whose song was used in a PSP commercial where the girl leaves the guy a chip and he has to find her at the Kenna concert. The song drove me crazy when the commercial came out, because I had New Sacred Cow, and clearly didn't recognize the song in the ad from the album. At the time, I didn't recognize the commercial as an indication of forthcoming material. Thankfully, the new album comes out in September.

Kenna - Out of Control (State of Emotion) from Make Sure They See My Face

Thursday, August 2, 2007

"You taste like tear stains and could-have-beens..."

She Wants Revenge has a new song out from their upcoming album and it doesn't exactly thrill me. I loved their debut material. It was dark and viciously sexual in a push-me-against-the-wall kind of way. This song, while making positive use of the cowbell, (which I always enjoy and appreciate thanks to Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken), doesn't exactly live up to the previous material.

I'm not so sure what it is, but I'm not invested in the atmosphere of the song. Though it's still sung in the straightforward (but still staggered/jilted Interpol-ish) manner, I don't believe the emotion behind the words. On their first album, the lyrics were delivered in the same way, but they had a punch and a bite that kept me listening. There's a sharpness that's lacking here, but I'm still interested to hear what the rest of the songs have to say.

Judge for yourself:

She Wants Revenge - Written in Blood

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"I'm on the verge of an awakening..."

I was watching the new Siouxsie Sioux video from the upcoming Mantaray:

and I've got to say, I'm not too impressed. Granted, I'm not on the shortlist for Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees superfans (paging Bruce Brown) but I still expect a bit more sonically.

Siouxsie Sioux's music was totally in the first movie I ever went to a theater and saw: Batman Returns. I had to leave the theater and hide twice during the beginning, I was easily frightened. But soon enough, I was entranced and "Face to Face" (which is playing in the background of the masquerade ball scene when Bruce and Selena discover that they're nemeses as well as totally in love with one another) was the most romantic/sexiest background music that my 7 year old self could fathom at the time.

Still one of my favorite movies to this day.

Once I sort through my 100+ gigs of music to find it, I'll put it up here. For now, simply enjoy the YouTube video.