Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bloc Party - Day Four

Bloc Party are back with their second listen from their upcoming album Four. We already got to hear 'Octopus' and now we get to hear new track 'Day Four' which brings to mind the bands earlier days. The song deserves your time while listening and it is one of those songs that you will reach for the repeat button, as it builds with each listen.

The new album Four will be released on August 21st via Frenchkiss Records.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rah Rah "Art and a Wife"

Rah Rah has been on my radar for some time now with the release of 2010's Breaking Heart's followed by an album of remixes. With that being said, I am pleased to annouce the release of The Poets Dead, due out October 2 digitally and October 23 physically, Canadian indie-rockers Rah Rah's third full length LP. Marshall Burns (guitar,vocals) give us some insight on the albums first single, "Art and a Wife," by saying, “The song is about the two main forces in my life,” he says. “There is the emotional side, symbolized by love for one’s family and friends, and then there is the intellectual half as exemplified by dedication to one’s music and the mysterious impulse to create art.” If the rest of the album sounds like "Art and a Wife," we are in for a real treat. 

For tour dates, pre-order or general info on the band head to the band's website here.

Why? "Mumps"

With a handful of demos Cincinnati indie rockers headed to Denton, Texas , where they recorded their fifth LP. Why? is back with Mumps, Etc. a followup to 2009's Eskimo Snow. Due out October 9th, their fifth LP has been described as a "morbid fascination and offbeat romanticism dubbed Mumps, Etc." Sod in the Seed" gives us a sneak peek into what the new album has to offer. 

Come August Why? will be embarking on an extensive tour. With a reputation for putting on an incredible show, you won't want to miss these guys live! For more dates check out Why?'s website and tour page, located here.

09.03 Boise, Idaho (Reef)
09.04 Salt Lake City, UT (In the Venue)
09.05 Englewood, CO (The Gothic) 

Mumps, Etc Tracklisting

Jonathan's Hope
Thirteen on High
White English
Sod in the Seed
Kevin's Cancer
Bitter Thoughts
Paper Hearts
As a Card
WHY? - "A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under" from anticon. on Vimeo.

Blackbird Blackbird "Happy With You"

Mikey Maramag aka Blackbird Blackbird is a San Francisco based musician who has be compared to the likes of Caribou and Washed Out. His musical style is described as "folktronica" with "deeply textured psychedelic pop songs." His debut album Summer Heart was well received by critics (Fader, Rcrdlbl, XLR8R), which followed a European Tour and a record deal. Boracay Planet, his highly anticipated EP, is due out October 16th, but until then we have "Happy With You" to hold us over. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Band of Horses Twilight Concert Series Review

Lower Dens opened the fourth show of the 2012 Twilight Concert Series promoting their sophomore album Nootropics. For a front woman, Hunter sure did like to hide behind her instruments on the outskirts of the stage, and opted for the other three members to share the spotlight. New songs like "Candy" and "Brains" drew those who arrived early in closer to the stage. It was "In the End is the Beginning" that really showcased band's talented individuals. This 15 minute build up of murky and dark passion from the minds' of Lower Dens set the tone as the sun began to set in the park. 

Band of Horses opened with a surge of momentum without stopping in between songs until they reached their desire energy level from the crowd. The tech guys were running on and off stage shuffling guitars for a good twenty minutes. Ben told the crowd this would be the bands first show in what seemed like months after flying down from Alaska. BoH looked like tour veterans with their stage presence and all the stomping around the stage. 

Of course, the crowd didn't have to wait long for what they wanted, just a few songs in "The Great Salt Lake" was being belted from a packed Pioneer Park. It became a running joke when Bridwell would introduce songs that the next song would be "The Great Salt Lake". The setlist had a good mix for old and new fans, featuring singles from all four of their albums. This ranged from all the members of the band singing the chorus of Mirage Rock's single "Knock Knock"to a heartfelt "Is There A Ghost" from their most underrated album Cease to Begin. Also from the second album, they told a story about how a couple tied the knot to "No One's Gonna Love You".

Band of Horses was nice enough to dedicate the bread and butter of a rock anthem "The Funeral"
those of us who had to work the next morning. The evening's amazing performances came to an end with another surge in momentum as they played a familiar song. It sounded like "The Great Salt Lake", but I think they called all the songs that.

For more photos visit FPT's Facebook Photo Gallery.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Killers - Runaways VIDEO

The Killers unleashed their new video for 'Runaways' earlier today, and hopefully it will set the tone for the rest of their album Battle Born.  Battle Born will see the light of day on September 18th.  Nice to have you back, Brandon Flowers and company.


Purity Ring- Shrines REVIEW

Purity Ring laid on the mystique early for Shrines.  With the 2011 online release of three ubiquitous singles- “Ungirthed”, “Lofticries”, and “Belispeak”- the level of buzz surrounding the pop duo had reached an almost procedural level.  Now, over a year later, comes the inevitable release of Shrines and it’s a testament to the craftsmanship of Purity Ring that this imminent hooplah somehow dodged any hint of anticlimax.  Instead, here we are, with a thirty-eight minute collection of sumptiously dazzling synthpop.  In terms of sound, Grimes leaps immediately to mind- as does Fever Ray, Austra, and countless other electronic brethren.  If the singles from 2011 set your world afire, Purity Ring only pours on the gasoline with heavier doses of warped vocals, skittering percusssion and a now signature sugar-laden synthetic edge. And while Shrines drapes comfortably around those earlier tunes, it manages to expand the Purity Ring universe without ever threatening to stray from their infectious first impression.  That said- last summer, if “Ungirthed”, etc left you cold, this offers almost nothing new in terms of sound- simply variations, both relentless and irresistible, on the same overall theme. 

An initial listen to Shrines reveals an alarming lyrical depth, especially in juxtaposition with the coy innocence of Megan James’ vocals.  “Sea water is flowing/ From the middle of my thighs” begins album opener “Crawlersout” establishing Purity Ring’s niche for body imagery.  This theme continues in the graphic depictions within “Fineshrine” of an apparently intimate dissection- “Cut open my sternum/And pull my little ribs around you.”  The tracklist is full of these lyrical Easter eggs and it’s nice to have this cushion when the album occasionally ventures into redundancy.  Let’s face it- Purity Ring are obviously not trying to keep anyone off balance here.  The rhythms, lo-fi beat drops, etc, while not overtly traditional, are familiar enough to become predictable and Shrines has the strongest case of “the claps” of any record in recent memory.  But in lieu of surprises, Purity Ring offers the listener an experience more akin to auditory cleansing than any type of calculated formality.  Shrines is an inescapable album and the best response is to probably just let it wash all over you- then, of course, listen to it again.

 - Fr. Jones

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nas Twilight Concert Series Review

Currently touring in support of the recently released Life is Good, Nas stopped in Salt Lake City to play the third installment of the 2012 Twilight Concert Series.

English rapper Tinie Tempah kicked off the night, getting the crowd hyped, as if solely the anticipation of Nas wasn't enough. Compared to previous Twilight installments, Pioneer Park was feeling more populated from the get go, as audience members close to the front were crowd surfing before he even took stage. I asked a few of the concert goers trapped against the railing upfront how they were doing, they assured me "they were fine." 

Nas had two members on stage with him, one a DJ and the other on Keyboards. Nas, wearing a NYC baseball cap wasn't afraid to let the crowd know of his east coast roots. Before taking stage the two members of his ensemble started by playing a track by Notorious B.I.G. shouting something along the lines of "Do you love B.I.G./number 1/throw your hands in the air." Shortly following they went on to sample a Tupac track saying something like, " if you love Pac/number 2/put your hands in the air," with Nas taking stage shortly after.

Nas killed it from the second he took stage with more than 20,000 or so in attendance going absolutely wild. He made it clear that he loves "real hip hop" often saying "Salt Lake City loves real hip hop!" With such an extensive career he played a good mix of hits such as, "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" from 1996's It Was Written. He also played "Hate Me Now" from 1999's I Am... along with tracks from his new album Life is Good. All in all the show was great from the atmosphere to the sound. Let's be honest, of course it was good. Salt Lake City just witnessed one of the greatest MCs of all time, Nas.

Teen Daze Kilby Court - Live Review

The Vancouver electro-pop act known as Teen Daze, who is actually only comprised of one individual, was a tough act to follow last Wednesday. Teen Daze Kicked off the night last opening for White Arrows and Beat Connection at Kilby Court (Salt Lake City).

He released his debut LP All Of Us, Together in June 2012 after a prolific stretch of EP's dating back to 2010. The ambient tracks also bring a lot of life and energy to the table, which came out through live. About half way through, he thanked everyone for coming early to see him, saying "it's nice to see everyones faces in the light" especially since he typically plays in darker clubs/venues which is a more appropriate setting for his music. 

As the night continued, often singing, he played a good mix from ambient to upbeat electro-pop tracks. Midway through the set, he played two new songs, which seemed to be more upbeat and hit harder. For the final song he asked, "do you want to hear something fast or mellow?" The general consensus of the crowd was "Fast!"

Teen Daze, who is comparable to acts such as a Washed Out or Tycho, is onto something, and definitely worth checking out. Hinting at the possibility of a new album, I would recommend catching him sooner than later.

See also FPT's review of White Arrows and Beat Connection at the Cactus Club (Milwaukee). 

Band of Horses/Lower Dens Twilight Concert Series Preview

Band of Horses has steadily gained recognition locally since their first show in SLC in the spring of 2006. The brought down the house at Kilby Court playing "The Great Salt Lake", and with their next visit four years later, they opened with the song named after the same lake as our city for a sold out crowd. Last week's TCS brought in over 20k people, and in anticipation of the band's third show here, we've already seen Band of Horses tickets at the top of the chart for online presale tickets for over a month. Salt Lake is ready for BoH to bring their mellow outdoorsy sound and match the energy of their first two shows with a much larger crowd in the park.

The band has a familiar soft alt-country sound that sounds incredible in person. Looking up at the stage you might not consider the misfits you're gazing upon to even be a legitimate band. Bed Bridwell has nasally distinctive vocals and might light up a few cigarettes onstage (expect a letter to the legislature in the newspaper Friday morning), Tyler Ramsey is possibly the skinniest man to play a guitar ever, Creighton Barrett shows less emotion than a mime while playing drums, and Ryan Monroe looks like he's uncomfortable with crowds, while he tries to hide behind a keyboard. From these misfits you get perfect-pitch in the microphone, awe-inspired guitar harmony, violent drum cracks, and a pizazz from behind the keys.

The band has had several hits make it on television shows and in films since their 2006 release of Everything All The Time, but they became a familiar face on the scene with the 2010 release of Infinite Arms. The third album from the group is considered by many to be their best work, and peaked at number 7 on the US charts. So far, 2012's two released tracks of Mirage Rock have proven to be just as well written as their previous work. Expect  "Knock Knock" and "Dumpster World" to be in Thursday night's setlist, along with the possibility of a few more tracks from Mirage Rock, leaving Salt Lake to be some of the first to hear Band of Horses' followup to their Grammy nominated album.

Show up early to see the opening act Lower Dens. If you're unfamiliar with Lower Dens think the War on Drugs' ambient americano meets Women's shape-shifting noise making, with a touch of Grimes' eccentricity. The band is Jana Hunter's side project consisting of Will Adams on guitar, Carter Tanton on the keyboard, Geoff Graham playing bass, and Nate Nelson drumming. They're all the way from Maryland promoting the release of their new album Nootropics. Their sophomore album was written by Hunter after a 12 month tour opening for earlier Twilight Concert Series artists the Walkmen and Beach House. This album has a more refined sound, while still maintaining the psychedelic folk feel of 2010's Twin-Hand Movement. Lower Dens will set the mood for an act like Band of Horses perfectly with a warm ambience on a hot summer night. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012 Coverage: Preview

It still amazes me that I am going to Lollapalooza this year in Chicago. And now it's only a mere two weeks away. So it is my journalistic duty to attempt to encompass everything that I will be doing that weekend - from the food and drink, to the after parties, to the shows themselves. This will be a weekend to remember, and it's needless to say I probably won't be getting too much sleep from August 3-5.

Buckingham Fountain
Lollapalooza is held in Chicago, at one of my favorite parks in the nation: Grant Park. Spread out over 115 acres in the heart of downtown Chicago; the beautiful Buckingham Fountain serves as a welcome mat as you walk in to the festival grounds (you know the fountain: it was in the opening credits for "Married With Children"). The fountain also serves as a meeting ground for incredibly drunk festival-goers to end their night with a quick dip, which is immediately followed by a quick handcuffing from the local police. Every year, I see at least 6 people get into the fountain, and they can stay in there as long as they want, but anxious police officers are awaiting them as soon as they exit. Seriously folks, it's not worth it. You'll definitely be slapped with a heavy fine, and I can only imagine that the capable and kind officers of the law will strip you of your "right" to return to the fest the following days.

Things got a little muddy last year... 
Aside from an incredible lineup year in and year out, Lollapalooza continues to improve its on-sight entertainment and offers attendees unique hands-on experiences throughout the festival grounds. And the food carts are typically to die for, just make sure you stop at non-peak hours, or you might miss an act just waiting in line for food. This year seems to have even more options for patrons, so maybe the lines will be a little more spread out than years past. I'll indulge you with a quick list of grub that I recommend you check out, if you're lucky enough:

Chubby Weiners - The self-proclaimed "Greatest Hot Dog Stand The World Has Ever Known"
Kuma's Corner - Amazing food found in Chicago, can't wait to try to the food cart version
Goose Island Brewpub - Again, one of my favorite breweries, going to have to indulge in some Sofie or Matilda. Seriously delicious brews.
Puffs of Doom - Can't go wrong here. A part of the new "Farmer's Market" (or at least new since I've last been to the fest), I'm going to bury my face in a cream puff or six this weekend.

Alright, now that I've got my taste buds anxiously awaiting the edible joys of Lollapalooza, it's probably time I get down to the real deal: here's my CAN'T MISS show list for the weekend. This is a rough schedule, as I will be trying to catch as many of the shows below that I can, but as anyone who has been to Lolla knows, it can be tough getting from stage-to-stage. But, here goes.

  • Yellow Ostrich - 1:30 pm - Sony Stage
  • Dr. Dog - 2:15 pm - Redbull Soundstage
  • Sharon Van Etten - 3 pm - Playstation Stage
  • Metric - 4 pm - Bud Light Stage
  • Die Antwoord - 5 pm - Playstation Stage
  • Passion Pit - 6 pm - Bud Light Stage //
  • The Shins - 6:15 pm - Redbull Soundstage
  • M83 - 7:30 pm - Sony Stage
  • The Black Keys - 8:30 pm - Redbull Soundstage //
  • Bassnectar - 8:45 pm - Perry's Stage

I will be starting the weekend off by checking out Yellow Ostrich at 1:30, followed immediately by Dr. Dog at the Redbull Soundstage at 2:15. I recall being unimpressed with Dr. Dog's latest studio effort, saying that they stuck too much to an unabridged "live set" feel for an album. So it only makes perfect sense for me to check out this set.

Sharon Van Etten is next at 3, followed by a little bit of Metric at the Bud Light stage at 4, and probably a quick bite to eat at the Lolla Chow Town.

Die Antwoord is one of my top acts to check out on Friday. Although I've never been fully into their music, I hear they put on an amazingly entertaining set. After seeing the "Baby's On Fire" video this year, I can't pass up the chance to see them.

Next up comes the first really tough decision of the weekend: The Shins vs. Passion Pit at 6(ish). I'm leaning towards The Shins in this close battle, mainly because I will get a chance to see Passion Pit when they come to Milwaukee later this year. However, I saw The Shins the first year I went to Lollapalooza back in 2006, and was thoroughly disappointed in their sound. It just wasn't loud enough for a festival setting. Putting this aside and giving them a chance, as the band itself has changed quite a bit, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'm ditching out if I can't hear James Mercer and company again.

...Really excited to get a chance to see M83 Friday evening, who put out a stellar album last year, and are heralded as putting on a spectacular live set. Followed by a little bit of a mix between Bassnectar and The Black Keys. Sorry, but the Friday headliners aren't quite for me, especially after being incredibly disappointed in The Black Keys efforts in Milwaukee earlier this year. Then, it's on to the after party (more on those later!).

Frank Ocean
  • JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound - 12 pm - Sony Stage
  • Delta Spirit - 2:15 pm - Bud Light Stage
  • Empires - 3 pm - BMI Stage
  • Alabama Shakes - 4:15 - Bud Light Stage
  • The Tallest Man On Earth - 5:15 pm - Playstation Stage
  • Washed Out - 6 pm - Google Play Stage//
  • The Weeknd - 6 pm - Redbull Soundstage
  • Bloc Party - 7 pm - Sony Stage //
  • Calvin Harris - 7 pm - Perry's Stage
  • Avicii - 8:30 pm - Bud Light Stage //
  • Frank Ocean - 8:45 pm - Google Play Stage

Wow. Saturday looks like a wild, eclectic day. 

Definitely gotta check out Delta Spirit's and Alabama Shakes' sets earlier in the day. Then, some tough decisions must be made: do I chillwave my brains out with Washed Out or get my Baby Makin' Music fix with The Weeknd?! This will be a tough decision that I'm sure won't be made until the day of. 

To make matters worse, I will have to decide between Bloc Party, who put out one of my favorite albums of 2005 (and a few decent LPs since), or check out Calvin Harris, who has been making a name for himself as a top-notch producer. I'm also not going to miss out on seeing Avicii, who will undoubtedly put on a spectacle of a live set, but I know I can't miss a minute of Frank Ocean's set, who has won me over the past few weeks with his beautifully raw debut studio LP, channel ORANGE.

At The Drive-In
  • Kid Color - 12 pm - Perry's Stage
  • Polica - 1:30 pm - Sony Stage
  • The Walkmen - 3 pm - Sony Stage
  • Sigur Ros - 4 pm - Redbull Soundstage
  • At The Drive-In - 6 pm - Redbull Soundstage
  • Miike Snow - 7:15 pm - Sony Stage
  • Jack White - 8:15 pm - Redbull Soundstage //
  • Justice - 8:30 pm - Bud Light Stage

A little bit of a smaller list for me to see here, but there is no doubt in my mind that if I'm going to die from elation this weekend, it'll be on the Sabbath. I'm going to start the day by getting my blood flowing with Kid Color and Polica, two acts I've seen this year. But after Polica, my time will be spent scooting forward to take part in another amazing set from The Walkmen, who have been one of my favorite bands for the last few years. Not to mention the fact that I will have the rare opportunity to check out Sigur Ros at 4, a show I will probably lose myself in, and think about for months to come. 

Then, in a total "Holy Shit" moment, I get to check out one of my favorite bands of all time: the reuniting, post-hardcore At The Drive-In. I will then be able to gather myself whilst watching Miike Snow, followed by making the toughest decision of the weekend: Justice vs. Jack White (!??!).

Stay Tuned party people, this is gonna get interesting!

Side note from Kellen
Believe me when I say that I am incredibly grateful for the privilege to be covering Lollapalooza for Fake Plastic Tunes. A big (preemptive) THANK YOU to Brittany Pearce and everyone over at Fresh Clean Media for this amazing opportunity. I look forward to covering the festival for YOU the reader, and will do my best to give you a full recap of what the Lollapalooza experience is all about. Keep an eye out for me on the grounds, and feel free to do the Twitter thing, follow me that weekend -- @KellenYouSoftly -- and tweet at me if you think I'm missing out on anyone in particular!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Vaccines - Teenage Icon VIDEO

'Teenage Icon' is the new single off of The Vaccines’ forthcoming album, The Vaccines Come of Age, which will be released on September 3rd in the UK (October 2nd USA) via Columbia Records. The video shows the band jammed packed in an elevator rocking out the song, all while they are switching back and forth into female versions of themselves.

The Vaccines Come Of Age Tracklisting:
01. No Hope
02. I Always Knew
03. Teenage Icon
04. All In Vain
05. Ghost Town
06. Aftershave Ocean
07. Weirdo
08. Bad Mood
09. Change Of Heart pt.2.
10. I Wish I Was A Girl
11. Lonely World


LCD Soundsystem's Swan Song: "Shut Up And Play The Hits"

"If it's a funeral... let's have the best funeral ever"

This is the opening text shown at the beginning of the new documentary, Shut Up And Play The Hits: And thus begins the final piece of brilliance that James Murphy, Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang, and others would put together as LCD Soundsystem.

To say that I was anticipating the release of this film would be the biggest understatement of the year; heck, I can honestly say I was more excited to see this film in theaters than any other film I've ever seen. LCD Soundsystem, to me, was more than just my favorite band, but a life-changing event and movement that would warp the way I looked at music forever. After the band announced that it would be disbanding, playing one final show at Madison Square Garden in April of 2011, I had the craziest urge to do whatever it took to get to see and hear this final show. Of course, I chickened out in the end, didn't make it to New York and settled for watching a live stream via Pitchfork that night and eventually downloading (and listening to religiously) the final performances of my favorite band.

James Murphy & Pooch
Shut Up And Play The Hits not only did an excellent job of making the viewer feel like they were at MSG that night, but also gave us all an introspective view at the person (albeit, Mastermind) behind LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy. Shots of him going unnoticed while walking his French Bulldog through NYC, making coffee, and candid conversations with his manager and friends/bandmates all give audiences a glimpse into the life of a normal 42-year-old man who just happens to have a silver lining of musical genius.

The film is set up with a perfect narrative: an interview with James Murphy and Chuck Klosterman (my journalistic and non-fiction writing idol) in a small New York restaurant. The film is structured around not only the final show, but also this interview. It's set up beautifully when Murphy states that they wanted to do something different, something important for this final show, and then you hear the opening notes of "All My Friends" and realize that this was something important and different.

Aziz Ansari Crowd Surfing
The cinematography in SUAPTH is worth noting too. Often finding members of the crowd that you swear you've met before: some screaming lyrics, some dancing their asses off, some famous (Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover), a couple making out during "Us v Them", some in Panda masks, and others balling their eyes out. These crowd shots are featured throughout, and are highlights of the film, while the shots of the actual band are chill inducing; every member on stage seemed to be having the time of their life, taking full advantage of the moment and where they were, knowing they'd never be back again. It was funny to see a lot of audiences surprise as guests took the stage with the band: Reggie Watts and Shit Robot join LCD for segments in their opus, "45:33". The biggest "surprise" was during "North American Scum" which found members of Arcade Fire on stage with LCD Soundsystem.

The odd thing about this film is that everyone in the theater (assumedly) knew the ending. It's not as if, at the end of the movie, the band would pull a surprise and announce they were getting back together. Instead, the film came with a pre-scripted "spoiler," but I have the feeling that no one leaving the theater felt cheated. The direction of the film makes sure to highlight what's really important to the viewers: the music, but the glimpse into the decision-making, and the real life of members of the group makes the film brilliant.

There are two moments in the film that stick with me, as a member of the thousands of people who consider themselves LCD's biggest fan. These moments still send goosebumps up my arm. Besides the normal songs that I consider to be my favorites ("All My Friends"; "Dance Yrself Clean"; "Yeah"; and "Losing My Edge") the connection I felt with a sea of people watching the songs being performed was immensely humbling.

In the interview with Klosterman, he asks, "What is [LCD's] biggest failure?" This question is met with a eye-widening "wow" from Murphy, a question he's probably never even dreamed of answering. The film cuts away to a performance, but later cuts back to the interview. Murphy answers, reluctantly, that time will tell, but "Quitting" might turn out to be LCD's biggest failure. He gives his reasons, and admits that they are probably somewhat selfish (they aren't), but it's nice to know that this wasn't something that he was 100% sure was the best thing to do.

And then there's the "storage space" shot. I guarantee you anyone that is reading this, who saw the film on July 18, knows exactly what shot I'm speaking of.

Murphy admits to his manager that the storage space housing all of the equipment and instruments that belong to LCD Soundsystem needs to be cleared out, and that he would be travelling there later that day. Cut to a shot from about 20 feet out, of James Murphy looking over all of his equipment that has been with him for years, and he starts sobbing uncontrollably.

This stuck with me. And this shot is probably the reason I'm writing a film review piece on a music blog. And fine, I'll admit it sent a tear down my cheek.

Shut Up And Play The Hits was not only a great documentary, but a swan song for a band that meant a lot to a mass amount of people. And although it's not the same as a new LCD album, and never will be, it's a fantastic bookend to a near-decade's worth of music from a band that meant the world to me. It's nice to know I'll have this film to watch again and again-- to relive something that I was never really a part of.
Beat. Connection.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Metric- Synthetica REVIEW

“I’m just as fucked up as they say…”

Thus begins Synthetica, Metric’s much-hyped followup to their 2009 breakthrough album, Fantasies.  This opening declaration ultimately sets a tone the album can only aspire to sustain for the duration.  It’s edgy, sexy, and committed-   but once the dust settles around the undeniable electricity of the opening three songs, it becomes quite apparent that Synthetica suffers from some of the same issues that plagued Fantasies.  For all of their intense, full-throttle highs, both albums are remarkably hit or miss.  It’s a rare feat of craftsmanship for a band to alternate between effortlessly sustaining accomplished, high-octane stadium rock with yawn-inducing formality, but this oddly seems to be the pattern that Metric is falling into.

Make no mistake about it though- when Synthetica works, it raises the powerhouse sensibilities of Fantasies to another level entirely.  It’s more polished and precise than it’s predecessor (which is saying a lot because the production on Fantasies practically had it’s own sheen).  While her vocal range is limited, Emily Haines sounds less willing to remain comfortable which leads to the album’s aforementioned edginess.  Plus, Metric seems to be glimpsing in new directions in terms of evolving their sound.  “Artificial Nocturne”, “Youth Without Youth”, and “Speed the Collapse” are not exactly reinventing the wheel (in fact, the synthetic pulse of “Youth” sounds downright Goldfrapp-ian) but they show a band not only unreliant on repetition but interested in exploring as well.  This is why it feels all the more disheartening when Synthetica inexplicably loses all inspiration in it’s midsection before regrouping for an above-average final set- beginning with the album’s eponymous track but not counting the meandering “Wanderlust” bizarrely featuring a lost Lou Reed (yes, Lou Reed).  So far, Metric seems to be a victim of their own talent.  It’s impossible to argue the band’s technical merit, but their now trademark inconsistency renders them a frustrating band to enjoy on purely an album basis.  Perhaps their defining release will be a Greatest Hits collection ten years from now.  That thing should be dynamite.    


 - Fr. Jones

The Dreaming 7/15/2012 - LIVE REVIEW

Sunday night was my fourth time seeing The Dreaming in Salt Lake City. In the past the shows have been nothing short of amazing as the band has been consistent in their ability to connect with the audience through their high energy sets.

I was especially excited going into the show due the fact that I had missed the last time they were in town and had been bummed out until they announced they were coming again so soon.

The crowd was respectable in size and high in anticipation of the night. I had the feeling like in other Dreaming shows that most in the crowd had seen them before and would no doubt see them again. The fans sang along with singer Christopher Hall with familiarity of the music and a love of the band.

This show was particularly intriguing for me in that the band had announced that they would be playing six Stabbing Westward songs during the set. This was big news since I am still a huge Stabbing Westward fan and had seen them several times in concert before they split up in 2002.

The Dreaming hit the stage at around 11:30pm and were on fire the entire evening. They played a set heavy with covers with Stabbing Westward songs: So Far Away, Shame, What Do I Have To Do, Sometimes it Hurts, Waking Up Beside You, and Save Me. Sometimes it Hurts was particularly amazing as Christopher Hall came out on the stage alone with an acoustic guitar to play a stripped down version. 

A pleasant surprise of the evening was a cover of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain. Hall’s vocal style suited the song quite well and I found myself after the show wishing I had a recording of it to listen to again.

I did find the show to be light on the band’s own original songs which is to be expected with the focus on Stabbing Westward. I did find myself missing not hearing some of my favorite Dreaming songs, though, which is good because it is a testament of how good these guys really are and how strong their own songs stand up with even the Stabbing Westward songs.

So yes, the show was amazing. One of the best I’ve seen of them. I look forward to seeing them even more again whether they play more Stabbing Westward songs or strictly their own. These five guys show that they truly love the fans and love sharing the music that moves them.

The Dreaming are:

           Christopher Hall- Vocals
           Johnny Haro- Drums
           Martin Kelly-Bass
           Rich Jazmin- Guitar
           Josh Volkov- Guitar

Check out my review of Puppet here and be sure to check out their Facebook page here to get updates on their current and future tours.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nas Twilight Concert Series Preview

Originating from Brooklyn, New York it's no secret who Nas is. He is more or less a legend in the hip-hop world and has been named one of the best MC's of all time who has also a handful of Grammy's and other awards under his belt. Nas quickly joined the scene with the release of Illmatic in 1994 debuting number 12 on the Billboard Charts selling 59,000 copies in its first week, also described as a "landmark album on the east coast hip hop scene," by many critics. 

Since Illmatic he has released ten studio albums such as 1996's It Was Written featuring "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" and 1999's I Am... with "controversial" ground breaking tracks like "Hate Me Now." In the same year Nas released Nastradamus debuting number 7 on billboard charts selling 232,000 copies in it's first week.

2006's Hip Hop Is Dead debuted at number one (his third number one album) with a single of the same title, "Hip Hop is Dead" and "Can't Forget About You." After 2008's Untitled album Nas teamed up with Damian Marley to record Distant Relatives, released in 2010. His latest effort Life is Good was released July 13, 2012 and so far has been received well by critics. Either way, don't miss this show. It's not everyday to get to see a legend such as NAS perform in Salt Lake City. Doors at 5 music starts at 7PM at Pioneer Park.

Raphael Saadiq Review - Twilight Concert Series

Raphael Saadiq was one of the Thursday night Twilight Concert's I was fairly excited to see, especially with all the hype surrounding other popular acts such as Nas and Passion Pit. To include a grammy award winning R&B act to the series was a great way to diversify the lineup. 

Saadiq began his professional career in the late 80's into the mid 90's singing and playing bass in a rhythm and blues dance trio called Tony! Toni! Toné! After the band split, he played in "Lucy Pearl," a supergroup with members of en Vogue and A Tribe Called Quest. He also collaborated on the D'Angelo Track "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," which won a grammy in 2000.

Upon finding his own record label in 2002, he released his debut solo album Instant Vintage, reaching number 25 on the Billboard Charts and earning him several grammy nominations. Shortly after he released a double-disc live album All Hits at the House of Blues 2003 and his second solo album Ray Ray in 2004. Ray Ray had much "looser" approach creatively, incorporating funk, R&B, soul and hip hop.

Nearly four years later in 2008 The Way I See it was released featuring "Love That Girl" as the first single. The album was well received with it's classic Motown R&B/Soulful sound. His latest effort Stone Rollin was released in 2011 with popular tracks such as "Stone Rollin" and "Good Man," which were amongst some of the songs played at the concert. 

Onto the show, with a little over 12,000 individuals in attendance, it's hard to imagine anyone leaving disappointed. The show kicked off with his backing band, although he took stage shortly after. I particularly enjoy(ed) Saadiq's ability to bring a modern approach to a traditional Rhythm and Blues sound, which also incorporates a significant amount of soul and funk. All elements which came through in full force live. 

Not only was Saadiq full of energy from the moment he took the stage, but his entire backing band was at times, more energetic than he was.  Another highlight is Saadiq's ability to perform live, singing, dancing and often playing guitar. At one point he was accompanied front and center by his  keyboardist and backup signer who did a spontaneous synchronized dance move (total crowd pleaser). Overall, soul was in the air. Saadiq completed another great Twilight Concert Show not  to be easily forgotten. 

Concert Coverage - White Arrows & Beat Connection at Cactus Club

A couple of up-and-coming bright spots in the indie music world came through Milwaukee on Saturday, in the form of two bands: White Arrows and Beat Connection.

Cactus Club is always a pleasurable place to see a show, with a mellow, dive-bar environment coupled with a great venue room that features great sound. Saturday was no different, highlight by two bands that knew what they were doing on stage. Neither band featured too much stage presence or crowd interaction, but that will come with time and granted, there weren't a whole lot of people there to interact with. This is always a shame, especially when three bands are playing music that begs to be danced to (Teen Daze opened the show, and definitely worth checking out).

Touring to promote their debut LP, Dry Land Is Not A Myth which was mistakenly left off of my "Best Of" list for the year thus far. This mistake will not be repeated later this year; the album is a fantastic debut for the California-native band.

White Arrows' sound on the album translated incredibly well to their live set, with lead singer Mickey Church's vocals shining through a great backing quartet. I was incredibly impressed with the lead guitarist's ability, occasionally switching instruments and shredding whatever he touched.

The group has an eclectic yet familiar sound, at one point sounding like a male-lead Crystal Castles, another couple of songs sounding very power-pop influenced (i.e. Reptar, Passion Pit), then switching to a boy band-inspired TV on the Radio group a few songs later. A few tracks from the new album were recognizable and really got my attention: The opening track to both the set and album, "Roll Forever" was great, and "Coming or Going" and "Get Gone" are both outstanding songs.

Beat Connection was next, and had a tough act to follow. As more people filed in, the crowd was a little more responsive to what was being laid out in front of them atop a 2-foot-elevated stage.

Out on tour with a new album to promote (The Palace Garden), Beat Connection was a little more straight forward and less abstract sounding than White Arrows, but still put on a good show. Sounding more like a Tanlines-esque group that's been caught in space instead of a beach, Beat Connection actually put on a great show, creating an infective sound with great drum samples and synth sections. The songs "Palace Garden, 4 am" and "Saola" both stand out, and if you're looking for an introduction to the group, check these out first.

To finish the show, Beat Connection brought out members of White Arrows and Teen Daze to cover The Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place," which was a very fitting selection for a few bands that are heavily inspired by Byrne and company.

Overall the show is definitely worth checking out, and you're running out of time to do so. See these bands before they make it "big" and you end up kicking yourself for it next year. The remaining tour dates can be found below, as well as two official videos, one for each band.

July 17 - Hi Dive, Denver, CO
July 18 - Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, UT
July 19 - The Reef, Boise, ID
July 21 Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle, WA
July 22 - The Electric Owl, Vancouver, BC

Beat Connection - "Silver Screen" (from the Surf Noir EP)

White Arrows - "Get Gone"

Kalle Mattson - Water Falls

Kalle Mattson hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and has been putting out music since 2008.  My first listen to Kalle Mattson came today when I checked out his new video for 'Water Falls'.   The song and video has been picking up a fair amount of buzz on YouTube with now nearly 100,000 views in the first week alone.  The man behind the gorgeous music is Kalle Wainio who started out performing songs at the age of 17 under the band name of Kalle Mattson.  He has since  put out a couple of albums and an EP that you can pick up at his site

Take a listen to 'Water Falls' below and if you are like me you will hit the repeat button several times and wonder where this perfect sound came from.  It is a folk/indie gem of a song, and one that crashes the sounds of Jeff Tweedy, Neil Young, and Tallest Man on Earth all together in one instance.  'Water Falls' is Kalle Mattson's ascension to the next level and one that will continue to create a buzz as word of his talent spreads.

The video for 'Water Falls' was directed by Kevin Parry and here is his take on the shoot...
"I wanted to capture the slow-pulsing and escalating feel of the song. For years, I've had the idea of animating a camera through and around a city, so I challenged myself to capture the emotion and pace of the song with wherever this technique would take me. I chose the 'hypnosis' visuals to thematically tie the video together and layered that over top of the non-narrative exploration of San Francisco."


Monday, July 16, 2012

Mumford & Sons - Babel ALBUM PREVIEW

Mumford & Sons just announced the release date of their sophomore album Babel which will see the light of day on September 25th.  The album will feature 12 tracks (8 of which you can listen to below), which have already been on heavy rotation at their live shows.  Much of the album was written while the band have been on the road the past 2 years.  "The road has rubbed off into the album" said bassist Ted Dwane.  “The ingredients are very much the same: the four core instruments and a lack of a drummer, which can give it that strange, simple, unique sort of sound. I don’t think we were looking to be too crazy and experimental.”

The band start their tour August 1st and will find their way to Salt Lake City on August 22nd at The Saltair.

Babel Tracklisting:
01. Babel
2. Whispers in the Dark
3. I Will Wait
4. Holland Road
5. Ghosts That We Knew
6. Lover of the Light
7. Lovers’ Eyes
8. Reminder
9. Hopeless Wanderer
10. Broken Crown
11. Below My Feet
12. Not With Haste

Whispers In The Dark

I Will Wait

Ghosts That We Knew

Lover of the Light

Lovers' Eyes

Hopeless Wanderer

Broken Crown

Below My Feet