Oh man, I’m so excited for the Blur reunion this summer, even though it seems limited to the UK for now. The first of these new gigs happened on June 13th at the site of their first gig, and from the looks of a few YouTube videos, they sound fantastic.
On Saturday, before an audience of 150, Blur played its first concert as a four-piece in a decade, at Essex, England’s East Anglian Railway Museum (it’s where they performed one of their earliest gigs) — and some wonderful person has uploaded video of practically the entire show.
Video of Blur performing ‘There’s no Other Way’ on June 13th.
Victoria Bergsman, DJing at The Bell House in Brooklyn.
Nedward: Victoria Bergsman (formerly of The Concretes) is DJing at The Bell House, much to my delight. Waiting for Camera Obscura!
As big a fan of Camera Obscura as I am, the more interesting bit Tuesday night was a special guest DJ, Victoria Bergsman. A lot of people know her voice as the female counterpoint in Young Folks, the Peter Bjorn and John sing-along hit from a couple of years ago. But she was also the singer in one of my favorite bands, The Concretes. (Camera Obscura fans should check out their eponymous debut album.) She has since left the band, and formed a solo project under the name Taken By Trees, (also a great debut).
Anyhow, I might have been the only person in the crowd that had any idea who she was – or cared – so Lisa encouraged me to say hello. But, I’m just not one of those people who walks up to a famous person, and just gushes in their face. Call it shyness, call it fear of disappointment… the bottom line is that I chickened out.
To make matters worse, Lisa went over to the DJ booth without me, and told Ms. Bergsman that “her friend was a big fan,” but that he “didn’t want to bother her.” Nice. So now I’m shy, and embarrassed.
I don’t really regret it that much, but I would’ve liked to show off some dance moves from The Concretes’ On The Radio video. I’d like to think that she would’ve laughed.
U2 kicked-off their historic 5-night residency on David Letterman’s Late Show last night, with a performance of Breathe. They even participated in a little sketch, where Dave had them outside on 53rd Street, shoveling snow.
The residency is to celebrate the release this week of their twelfth studio record, No Line On The Horizon. And it just so happens that you can grab a copy of it in non-DRM MP3 format for $4 from Amazon. I don’t regularly listen to U2 much any more, but this is a great thing for a major-label artist to do, and I’m more than happy to give it a few listens for that price and format.
UPDATE 3/5: Night two, the boys played Magnificent, which sounds like a classic U2 song. Bono needs to treat his voice with more care, though.
Karin Dreijer Andersson has a solo album out now, under the name Fever Ray. She is one-half of the sibling pair that is The Knife, and the solo album is very much a continuation of their moody work on Silent Shout.
This is the second Fever Ray video, and it’s a nice compliment to the gothy/creepy visuals in the first video, If I Had a Heart, which was directed by frequent Knife collaborator Andreas Nilsson. (See the video for Silent Shout, and his visuals for their last tour.)
And no, that’s not Karin in the video – she hasn’t appeared regularly in her videos since her days in the Swedish indie band Honey is Cool, in the 90s. (A few notable exceptions include You Take My Breath Away, a chipper duet with former First Floor Power front-woman Jenny Wilson, and her guest vocals on Röyksopp’s club hit What Else is There? No, she’s not the floating chick, but the one sitting at the table, mid-way through.)
Speaking of that Röyksopp song, this video is directed by the same director, Martin de Thurah, a Danish filmmaker that seems to have a thing for effects and screwing around with the laws of physics – beautiful work.
I warmed to the album almost instantly, but seeing the songs come to life in these videos, they’ve started to take on a cinematic quality inside my head. Like all of Karin’s work, some people might be turned off by her singing style or be too quick to dismiss her as Björk-lite. I like this album, and I like it more and more after each listen.
It ended in acrimony, with the guitarist branding the singer an “egomaniac”. But after months of speculation, Blur have confirmed that they will be reuniting for a massive gig in London’s Hyde Park next summer.
My favorite band of the 90s, together again for the first time since guitarist Graham Coxon quit the band in 2002.
Walking out of the Roseland Ballroom last Tuesday night, I felt blind, deaf and dumbfounded – and I’m not the only one. We had just stood through an assault on our eyes, ears, and patience, but it was an amazing show.
Ear plugs were handed out on the way in, and I jammed them in as far as they would go – but, I’m not sure it was enough. It was certainly the loudest show I’ve ever witnessed.
And it wasn’t enough for the light show to be trippy and beautiful, but it also had to burn out your retinas. Lisa made the point that there were more lights pointed out at the crowd than at the band themselves. Still, the bright pink glow was exactly the perfect accompaniment for the band that recorded Loveless.
Last week I saw Vivian Girls play at Death By Audio in Williamsburg. It was my second time seeing them, and certainly won’t be the last. The Times printed a rave review:
Even though this band’s music tends toward the discordant, Vivian Girls … are romantics at heart. Their taut, no-nonsense songs brim over with noise and touches of shoegaze reverb, but at the center are glorious, gentle harmonies.
Parlophone Records recently put all 22 Blur videos up on YouTube, which is pretty cool. It’s interesting to compare the Popscene video from 1992, with the iconic Song 2 video from five years later – there are a lot of similarities, (though I wish music video directors would refrain from putting sing-a-long lyrics on the screen).
Blur was my favorite band back in the 90s, and I’ve seen them perform live a handful of times, the best of which was a raucous small show downstairs at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA in 1997. [MOKB]
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog is a fantastic three-part web-only musical, starring Neil Patrick Harris. I can’t underline enough how good this is. Available online for free until July 20th, and then available in iTunes for $3.99.
I’ve been known to make some blanket pronouncements over the years – such as, “I don’t like cover bands,” only to be proven wrong later. What I discovered was that I quite loved cover bands when they play music that I like, as opposed to the baby boomer prog rock and frat boy drivel that you usually hear.
Apply the same lesson to light shows… fancy lights at rock shows always seemed ridiculous to me; a stoner cliché. Ahh, but fancy light shows accompanying music that I love? That’s awesome!
Ladytron is one such band. As good as many of their records are, their live shows are something bordering on the transcendent. Now, I realize that it is nothing new for electronic bands to have light shows synced to the music, but what is impressive to me about them is their seriousness about playing real instruments, live, in the room. It brings a lot more energy to the show.
But, it has me wondering… how do they sync the lights so perfectly? It’s almost like there is a computer with a line-in feed, processing everything as it’s played.
Josephine Olausson, singer and keyboardist for the Swedish Indie band Love Is All, performing in Bushwick last Saturday.
Despite the heavy rains, thunder and lightening last saturday night, I ventured out to Bushwick on the J train to catch one of my favorite bands, Love Is All. They’ve acquired something of a good live reputation over the past couple of years, and though it was a short set, they didn’t disappoint.
One glance at these photos and video, and it should be clear that this was a very hot and sweaty show. And given that I found myself in the “pit” for the first time since my grunge days in high school, I’m pretty sure that I left the Market Hotel that night with a lot of other peoples’ sweat on me.
The Slits, Mercury Lounge, Wednesday March 5, 2008 – NYC
It’s not 1976 any more, but it was great to see Ari Up perform Slits songs. She’s so full of energy, still sporting those crazy dreadlocks, and was wearing a fantastically terrible American-Apparel–gone-wrong hand crafted space outfit. At one point she complained about the tights, and encouraged everyone to shoplift from AA.
I didn’t make any exciting resolutions this New Year, except to get back to my fighting weight, and land a more permanent design job. Looking back on 2007, one thing that stands out is that my Flickr photostream finally became a more real-time photo reflection of my life, with the convenience of my iPhone and its unlimited data plan. Sure, the quality of my photography might have deteriorated, but I’ve always preferred to shoot from the hip anyway. The iPhone suits what I want to do with Flickr.
But for 2008, I’d like to make one small resolution: do more with video. I bought a new point-and-shoot camera that does OKVGA video, (Canon Digital Elph SD750), so I want to put it to use. It’s output is a little grainy, especially in low light, but I think it suits what I want to do with it.
Here is a little idea that I got while walking around the Meatpacking district this past weekend: the Theory store on Gansevoort street has these amazing pulsating colored lights in the window – so I shot them, and then looped them in iMovie, set to The Knife’s live arrangement of “Heartbeats”:
If you look in my iTunes library right now, you won’t find any U2. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the entire back catalogue. The Joshua Tree was my first CD when I was a kid, I even have Under a Blood Red Sky on vinyl.
But, just because I don’t really listen to them anymore, doesn’t mean that I don’t get a little excited when something new U2 comes out. In advance of the re-release and remastered special edition of The Joshua Tree, the band has released a video on iLike’s Facebook app where Bono discusses an unreleased track included on the compilation.
U2 – “Wave of Sorrow”
The sentiment is moving, but man, I can’t believe the guy sings along to his own recording… as ever, Bono straddles the line between egomaniac and saint.
It’s friday – time to get ready for the weekend. I finally got around to getting the new The Go! Team album Proof of Youth, and it’s great. I’m loving the juxtaposition of hiphop, noisy guitars, and the multiculti lineup.
Here is a live video:
A short documentary on the band is below the fold.
Lisa and I still keep in touch with a lot of friends from high school, some of which we’ve known since grade school. We were all trying to remember today if there was an alma mater anthem for our High School. As none of us were particularly rah-rah back then, we couldn’t remember.
Three of us, however, could remember the words to our grade school anthem – which is a bit shocking, considering the last time I heard it was sometime in 1988, in the fifth grade. I think they forced us to sing this thing during assemblies, throughout the school years:
Country Parkway is our school,
where we learn to obey the rules.
We do our best and take great pride,
with our Country’s flag flying high.
Here we work and here we play
Learning new things everyday.
From north to south and east to west,
Our Country Parkway is the best.
Creepy, in its emphasis on conformity – especially for a fairly progressive public school district.
Each aspect of her (Karen O’s) stage identity finds equal expression on these songs, which only makes them sound more immediate and affecting. In fact, Is Is may be their most instantly accessible release, which is not a critical dig but just a way of saying it finds a good balance between alienating and inviting, between song and performance.
It was produced by Australian Nick Launay (who recorded Gang of Four, Killing Joke, and Public Image Ltd). Not too shabby.
I’ve been listening to a few CDs on repeat a lot, these past few months – my chief obsession being The Knife’s two LPs, the earlier Deep Cuts, and last year’s Silent Shout. I’m not a big techno fan, but I am a confessed svensk-phile.
We’re heading home to Buffalo for the holiday, (and my 10-year High School reunion), which reminds me of how well the Sabres are playing.
ESPN’s John Buccigross compares the Sabres to the britpop Oasis of all things:
At full strength, the Buffalo Sabres are unequivocally the best team in the NHL. Not only do they have the full complement of parts, but Buffalo has that confidence that Oasis had when they went head-to-head with Blur back in 1995 in a Britpop mano a mano, or more accurately called boyo-a-boyo.
Noel Gallagher said he and Oasis’ soul was more pure than Blur’s because they grew up poor, with dirt underneath their fingernails, while Blur was middle class. The concept is interesting, especially when it is spoken with a rough English accent while sitting in a gigantic and expensive chair.
But Chris Drury, who grew up in a middle-class town in southern Connecticut, makes $3.1 million this season and probably will sign a five-year, $22 million contract with someone next summer. And yet, he plays every game like someone kidnapped his entire family and the ransom is winning the faceoff he is about to take. That’s the story, morning glory.
I may not agree with John’s take on the 90s Britpop war, but it’s hard to argue with his thoughts on Drury.