Tag Archive for 'music'

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BU Central

Man, I’ve taken a long break from this site… a belated welcome back to all the college kids—I almost forgot about all of you.

And since it’s the new school year, it’s also time for BU Central to start up. They host bands, comedians and other fun stuff that we never had during our years there.

Rainer Maria

It makes me laugh when they pop up on Sirius Left of Center, as “up-and-coming”.

Catastrophe

Beirut

I really don’t get what the buzz is about, but, I have to respect their live act. I’ve never seen a room of kids go that apeshit over ukuleles.

Beirut

Other shows will be posted on their website, but a BU ID required to get in.

The Good, The Bad And The Queen

Damon and Paul
photo by NME

The Official Blur mailing list announced today that Damon Albarn’s new project The Good, The Bad And The Queen, will perform their first gig at a BBC festival in October. TGTBTQ is a collaboration between Albarn (Blur & Gorillaz), bassist Paul Simonon of The Clash, and guitarist Simon Tong of The Verve.

Damon is already setting expectations high, according to the BBC:

It was “a story” rather than a band, said Albarn, adding he was “very, very proud” of the work, which will be performed on 26 October at the Roundhouse.

“It’s a very English record. It’s the first time I’ve really written about home since Parklife,” he said.

The sound of the composition was “very cosmopolitan” with “a lot of songs that have got historical stories to them”, Albarn added.

A single will be released this fall, but the album isn’t due until 2007, produced by Danger Mouse. Check out the official website for more info and a teaser video.

UPDATE: Scott at Stereogum posted with a YouTube link to the teaser video.

The Beatings

ErinI went to see Reverse play at Bill’s Bar Friday night, and got to catch The Beatings for the first time. They’re a four-piece indie-rock act from Boston that’s been around for a couple of years, and they reminded me a lot of Hüsker Dü and the last Pixies album, Trompe le Monde.

It’s a pretty raw sound, but always melodic and direct. And I liked that the two guitarists and bassist each took turns at the mic — (no doubt they also share in song writing). 

  • Myspace : take a listen to some tracks
  • eMusic : download albums

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival

We didn’t make it down to SXSW, but we are heading to Chicago for Pitchfork’s festival.

96 degrees and humid… see you in hell, Chicago!


Asobi Seksu @ Great Scott

Asobi Seksu

Yuki Chikudate and Asobi Seksu performing at Great Scott in Allston.

We went to The Plan at Great Scott on Saturday night to see the Brooklyn band Asobi Seksu – I got some good shots of them and two of the opening bands.

As I wrote earlier, the new record Citrus is an incredible step forward for them, and the live show succeeded in duplicating the wash of guitars and noise, without completely covering up Yuki’s voice. They’re nice people, too.

The other great thing during the set were the lights and smoke effects… so cool. The Plan people are really showing up the old Cambridge clubs, because it was freaking cool.

Glass Candy

micNobuko and I went to see PDX’s Glass Candy play at Great Scott last night… wow, what a fun show.

It’s a three piece band, made up of a drummer, guitarist, and a glammed up blonde singer named Ida No. They use a lot of loops and beats, which mix with some relentless drumming and No’s post-punk vocal stylings. She coos, she screams, and she meanders around the stage, barefoot.

And most of all, she makes white boys like me dance. She’s Debbie Harry on meth. What’s not to like?

My New York City friends can catch them tonight at Don Hill’s, with the Chromatics.

Copyrights Pressure

The New York Times discovered everybody’s favorite cut-rate Russian MP3 site… allofmp3.com. And apparently, the Moscow-based business is holding up Russia’s application to the WTO, (nevermind that it’s a totally legal service inside Russia).

In other news, I found this BBC headline humorous: Website back after Swedish raids – almost conjures up visions of Viking mauraders… anyway, The Pirate Bay is up, and the Swedes are starting to take to the streets. Stay tuned…

New to You, New to Me

A couple of music things to post about today – something new, and somethingnew to me

Asobi SeksuAsobi Seksu – Citrus

The New York City band released their 2nd album this week, and it’s very good. They always reminded me of My Bloody Valentine meets Pizzicato Five, only better… and I absolutely love Sean McCabe’s artwork. Check them out on Myspace, or peep my shots of lead singer Yuki dancing with Jenna.

Tilly and the WallTilly and the Wall – Wild Like Children

I am so not into Bright Eyes, but I love this band… The album reminds me of 60’s folk music, as sung by Omaha hipsters. Village Indian has some MP3s and an interview, and you can check out the video for Ice Storm, Big Gust, and You to get the idea. If you liked Jenny Lewis’ solo album, you might like Tilly.

No SXSW, but…

OK, so I’m jealous of all of you SXSW’ers out there… my Flickr Contacts feed has been full of SXSW antics… next year, I must go, (yea I’ve been saying that for years).

Metric

possessed

Meanwhile, back here in Boston, I’ve seen a couple of good shows. First up was Metric, at the Roxy, on March 7th. If you have the chance to see them on this tour, do yourself a favor and get a ticket. I’m not the only one who is impressed.

They’ve got the best frontwoman in Rock n’ Roll right now, (step aside Karen O), and are musically pretty tight. They played for about two hours, and invited chaos for security at the end of the set, when they welcomed audience members up on stage. Then, Emily dashed into the crowd for an impromptu meet-n-greet, which is something I have never seen at a rock show. Bravo!

Reverse

Ian

The other show was this past thursday, at the Middle East UpstairsReverse, Scamper, and a couple other bands. Reverse is also very musically tight, and pretty rocki’… and, our workmate Ian is the singer/guitarist, so it was nice to come out and support him. We’ve seen Scamper before, opening for Kay Hanley, and I have to say that I enjoy them. They definitely fit the traditional “Boston” Indie power-pop sound, which I appreciate.

Music for a Cold Sunday Afternoon

  • Depeche Mode’s Precious The perfect track – I want this played at my wedding, should that day ever come.
  • The Sundays’ Wild Horses I like this better than the Rolling Stones’ original… Harriet’s voice is haunting… As a kid growing up in Buffalo, I used to sit in my basement and teach myself to play guitar. I had a Beatles song book, some records to play along to, and printed-out tablature.
  • Matisyahu’s King Without A Crown The only hasidic reggae star I know of… incredible live performance.
  • La Laque’s La Sirène dort I’m still waiting for a properly-recorded LP, but their live show is awesome. These girls (and guys) are on to something here.

Courtney Love does the math

I don’t know how I missed this, but Courtney Love gave an incredible speech at a May 2000 conference, on the music business, copyright law, and the real music pirates – the Majors. Salon has the unedited transcript, but I recommend reading it on Dave Ray’s site.

My favorite excerpt:

Somewhere along the way, record companies figured out that it’s a lot more profitable to control the distribution system than it is to nurture artists. And since the companies didn’t have any real competition, artists had no other place to go. Record companies controlled the promotion and marketing; only they had the ability to get lots of radio play, and get records into all the big chain store. That power put them above both the artists and the audience. They own the plantation.

Being the gatekeeper was the most profitable place to be, but now we’re in a world half without gates. The Internet allows artists to communicate directly with their audiences; we don’t have to depend solely on an inefficient system where the record company promotes our records to radio, press or retail and then sits back and hopes fans find out about our music.

Record companies don’t understand the intimacy between artists and their fans. They put records on the radio and buy some advertising and hope for the best. Digital distribution gives everyone worldwide, instant access to music.

And filters are replacing gatekeepers. In a world where we can get anything we want, whenever we want it, how does a company create value? By filtering. In a world without friction, the only friction people value is editing. A filter is valuable when it understands the needs of both artists and the public. New companies should be conduits between musicians and their fans.

Courtney Love was, (dare I say), a visionary… too bad nobody at the Major labels was listening.

IP in China

Don’t tell the Governator, but you can download pirated music via Yahoo! China.

Music

Maybe it’s been all this iPod talk these past few days, but I’ve added a bunch of new albums to my iTunes library recently…

metric / live it outMetric, Live it Out

Hands down, better than the first album.

old Arcade FireThe Arcade Fire, Arcade Fire

Not as good as the second album, but lovely just the same.

BRMC, HowlBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club, Howl

All my female friends seem to love these guys, but I never could get past the stoner-rock facade. This is more a “rootsy” album, which normally should turn me off… but, I’m intrigued.

Stellastarr*, Harmonies for the HauntedStellastarr*, Harmonies for the Haunted

ehh, sigh.

Ladytron, Witching HourLadytron, Witching Hour

Another My Bloody Valentine homage… but, this one doesn’t suck.

Franz Ferdinand, Franz FerdinandFranz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better

I hope all of their LPs are eponymously titled. Thanks to Chris, for pointing out the obvious… this is not another eponymously titled release. I do love the Soviet-inspired artwork, though.

iTrip LCD

I’ve had the iTrip LCD for a couple of weeks now, and I am very frustrated with it. I’ve used the regular iTrip for a couple of years, and it perfomed about as well as can be expected from an FM transmitter.

However, when I recently broke it, (the connector somehow bent and detached, causing some wires to disconnect), I decided to buy a new one. When I saw the LCD version, I ordered this instead.

My setup in my car is exactly as it was with the original iTrip, (2000 Saab 9-3, 3rd-Gen iPod, with flat EQ and broadcast to 88.7), but the result is simply maddening.

With the old iTrip, the iPod volume was set to about 90%, and caused very little distortion. But, with the new iTrip LCD, the sound is heavily distorted at 90% volume, and the unit automatically reduces the volume to about 50-60% for most music. This of course amplifies the static and background noise. To make matters worse, even then the music is still distorted. DX-mode makes only a marginal difference.

I hate to rain on the parade, but I had the old one, and it worked fine. I submitted a help ticket to Griffin 12 hours ago, and have yet to receive a response… perhaps their service techs are busy drafting the product’s support web site?

Stellastarr* tonight

I got a nice surprise from our friends at FNX:

Congratulations! You and a guest have been added to the VIP list for the PRIVATE WFNX / Smirnoff Off the Radar concert with Stellastarr*.

This private concert is Wednesday August 31st at the Middle East Downstairs (472 Mass Ave in Cambridge). The doors open at 9pm. HOWEVER, your entrance is based on club capacity. SO GET THERE EARLY – it’s a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE admission.

Last time I saw Stellastarr, we were down in front, and all the college kiddies were making out with each other. How romantic

La Laque & Pas/Cal

When I was in New York, Jenna and I checked out the La Laque & Pas/Cal show at Tonic, in the Lower East Side. They were celebrating the joint release of a 12″ single.

The real surprise for me was how much I liked the Brooklyn-based La Laque. They’re three girls & three boys, playing French New Wave / Surf rock. Listening to the few MP3s out there won’t quite convey the energy and feeling they exert on stage. I may never listen to another Stereolab album again [sic].

And it was nice to see Yuki & James (of Asobi Seksu) again… they’re coming to Boston soon, and I can’t wait to see them play again.

Pixies @ The Paradise

Yesterday, we scored tickets to a last-minute Pixies show at the Paradise, a small club just over the river from our house. They were shooting footage for a DVD, so the room was full of boom & track cameras. This is my 4th Pixies show, but by far the most intimate — we were only 6-7 feet from Kim Deal!

Presley posted our photos… here are some teasers:

pixies

Kim Smiles, uploaded by Presley

pixies

Frank and Joey, uploaded by Presley

Most Influential Modern Rock Albums, Part 4

Ok, ok, I know I’m behind on this list. Number 5 will come later this week…

U2, Achtung Baby : For me, Achtung turned the musical world upside-down… the first CD that I owned, which I received as a gift with my first CD player, was The Joshua Tree — with Rattle and Hum, this was the culmination of 80’s-era do-gooder U2. Intensely spiritual, earnest and direct, Joshua Tree cemented the band’s positive public image, while simultaneously launching them into the ranks of superstardom, causing even Time Magazine to dub them Rock’s hottest Ticket.

But, the band was about the re-invent itself. I remember seeing the first video from Achtung, The Fly, and thinking what the hell is this?. Gone were the soulful tunes and cowboy hats… instead we heard a jarring guitar riff, Bono singing in falsetto and walking along the edge of a rooftop, while clever slogans flashed across a nighttime city landscape. WATCH MORE TV. EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG. It was an assault on your eyes and ears, and couldn’t have been more different from the days when Bono sang about Martin Luther King Jr..

Sure, the album has some terrific songs — One, Mysterious Ways, and So Cruel to name a few. But as a high school kid, I was more intrigued by the media critique Bono and the band presented. ZooTV was the first tour that used video as a medium for more than providing the people in the cheap seats with a better view. Instead, the band played a multimedia mixture of clips — anything from CNN, to cricket matches, to those clever little slogans mentioned above.

And Bono’s on-stage persona, “The Fly”, was a rejection of the do-gooder U2 image of the 80s, and an embrace of the excess and self-gratification that fans and critics expect of celebrities. “Tongue-and-cheek” to be sure, but for all the satire, the music still kicked ass.

Most Influential Modern Rock Albums, Part 3

The Clash, London Calling : Whenever I hear the opening bars of this album, my pulse quickens and my hand reaches for the volume knob. The range of musical styles the group takes on is absolutely amazing— Rockabilly in Brand New Cadillac, reggae in Rudy Can’t Fail, disco in Lost in the Supermarket, and even the Phil Spector-ish Wall of Sound in The Card Cheat.

On Calling, the band borrowed heavily from the past, but filtered and sharpened the music through their late-70s, malaise-clouded lens. Even the album cover design was an homage to Elvis’s first LP—however, the smiling portrait of the 50s rocker was replaced by a now iconic photo of Paul Simonon, smashing his bass on stage.

As you listen track by track, Strummer and Jones’s vocal harmonies intertwine like a twin-headed monster—completely synced, but so different in tone. Jones’s Train in Vain sounds a lot like a bouncing McCartney tune turned sour, while tracks like London Calling and Death or Glory strut Strummer’s lyrical wit and coolness. This juxtaposition of song-writing personality always interests me in the great bands—like Bono & The Edge, and Lennon & McCartney, Strummer & Jones seem like an odd pairing. But perhaps this tension fosters an unusual creative chemistry, I don’t know.

I do know that there was a time in the late-70s, not shortly after I was born, when the world seemed to be a mess. There was Three-mile island, war in the Middle-East, Thatcher, Reagan, and the demise of the political Left. In many ways, it reflects our times… which is why I think this album sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did 25 years ago.

Most Influential Modern Rock Albums, Part 2

Pixies, Surfer Rosa : Having been in Boston for 9 years now, I’ve listened to and seen a lot of local live music — and none of it seems as good as it must have been in the late 80s. Rosa was the Pixies’ first LP, and though the followup Doolittle was more polished, I prefer the rawer debut.

Recorded in Boston, at Q-Division by Steve Albini, there is something special about this record — the way the drums thud, and the mismatched vocal harmonies of Frank/Charles & Kim, it just seems so intimate… like you can sense the space where it was recorded.

Most Influential Modern Rock Albums, Part 1

I haven’t had much time lately to think about posting much — in fact, I’m sure my Mac is feeling neglegted…

But, one thing I can do while working and driving to work, is listen to music on my iPod. When I read Jason Kottke’s reaction to some recent Critics’ picks for the best albums from the last twenty years, I started thinking about my own list.

First, it seems arbitrary to draw a line at 20 years — I prefer to put the seperation between classic rock, and modern rock, since most of the important music of the past 20-30 years, (for me), falls into the latter category.

For the next 5 days, (weekend excluded), I will post my list for the Most Influential Modern Rock Albums, in no particular order. Here is my first choice:

Blur, Parklife : Though today I more admire the earlier Modern Life is Rubbish, I can’t deny that Parklife was a transformative album for me. Released in 1994, when I was still in high school, it came to represent everything that wanted to be – clever, articulate, sarcastic, pop-aware, and paranoid.

Drawn largely on Martin Amis’ characters, especially from the novel London Fields, the album revelled in pre-Millenial malaise, and got me to sing along… la la la la.

Pixies Return

Well well well… the Pixies are going to play Boston, afterall.

Last year, I saw them at the show in Amherst, and the first show in Lowell. Now, they’re playing just across the river.

Pixies related posts from last year:

UPDATE: Tbone got us font-and-center, 5th row!

Hopeless Friend

“hopeless friend”, posted by nedward

Presley is in nyc for a conference, but that didn’t stop me from leaving the house last night. I caught Graham Coxon, former guitarist for a little britpop outfit called Blur.

I love Graham’s new album, Happiness in Magazines, and was delighted to find out that he also puts on a hell of a show, for such a shy guy. His vocals especially were quite strong, though he freaked out and stopped in the middle of a song because the lighting guy put a spot on him…

My first Blur show was in March of ’97, in the Middle East Downstairs, when I was a freshmen (yikes) in college. Rivers Cuomo was hanging out at the bar, Damon soaked me with water from his many bottles, and Graham mostly sulked in the corner, strumming veraciously. That was the best concert I have ever seen.

Seeing Graham kind of makes me wish he was still in Blur, and they were still playing little clubs…

Some old posts about Blur and related projects:

Hot Hot Heat

“Hot Hot Heat”, posted by nedward

Pet peeve for the day: How can Axis call itself a night club when it begins shows at 6:45pm and ends them by 9:30pm? Isn’t that just an evening club?

We went to see Hot Hot Heat on monday night, but due to the early show-time, managed to miss Louis XIV, and their lady-killer hit anthem, Finding out True Love is Blind (iTunes).

As for HHH, they’ve “blossomed” into full blown rock stars since we last saw them. When singer/keyboardist Steve Bays walked out with a teased up white-boy afro, I decided this would be my last HHH show. We’ll have to see about catching Louis XIV again, sometime.

Dear Leader @ The Paradise

“the room”, posted by nedward

Dear Leader started as a side project for x-Sheila Divine singer Aaron Perrino, but now is a fleshed-out band that includes musicians from past Boston bands such as Tugboat Annie, Orbit, and Cheerleadr…

Presley and I used to be Sheilas junkies, so I’m not sure any Dear Leader show could even come close, but it was a fun night. The opening band was Taxpayer.

(Also, we ran into Jim Gilbert in the crowd, and he remembered both our names… quelle suprise!)